Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday he was shocked to learn the mother of the sextuplets underwent fertility treatment as he was told she had not.
Khan said he was putting things in place to ensure there is legislation to deal with fertility treatment and ensure there is a system of regulation.
Kieron Cummings, 29, a bank worker, and Petra Lee Foon, 28, a teacher, created history on Monday when they became parents to the first sextuplets in the Caribbean region.
The Express learned that former government minister Verna St Rose Greaves visited Khan some weeks ago with Cummings, his father and the father of Lee Foon.
The Express questioned Khan yesterday in a telephone interview and he confirmed the meeting took place.
Khan said St Rose Greaves, Cummings and the relatives had expressed concern about the capability of the Mt Hope Women's Hospital to deliver and care for the sextuplets.
Khan, who is also a urologist, said he asked if Lee Foon took fertility treatment and he was told she did not.
"I felt certain that she had fertility treatment and maybe they didn't know...I assured them that things would be put in place as best as possible for her care," said Khan.
Khan disclosed that St Rose Greaves had also raised concerns about the hospital's resources with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
He said he assured the Prime Minister that the public health sector can handle this type of procedure.
"When I found out (through the media) that there was fertility treatment, it came as a shock and surprise to me and that she decided to keep all the embryos. I thought it was an actual birth but it wasn't," said Khan.
Khan said a number of risks are associated with multiple births.
"If you are going through fertility treatment, you must let people know that you did...when there is hyper-stimulation of the ovaries, you run risks for yourself and the babies. All those babies could have died," said Khan.
He pointed to the case of Nadya "Octomom" Suleman, a mother in the United States who had eight babies after she underwent in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and relied heavily on the state to care for these children.
Khan said the Mt Hope Women's hospital had to make a number of special provisions in the treatment of Lee Foon and her babies.
"There was a strain on the health system as we had to do everything to ensure a smooth delivery," said Khan.
Khan said this case would not stop other people from going forward with multiple pregnancies, with the expectation that the State would provide everything.
He said he has asked his legal adviser to revisit the Tissue Act, which deals with issues such as stem cell treatment and tissue transplants and which can also look at fertility treatment.
The legislation, he said, was drafted in 2001 but did not reach the Legislation Reform Committee (LRC) and Parliament.
Khan said as minister, he will do what he can to ensure regulation, but he stressed that this need not be because people themselves are supposed to be responsible.
"People themselves are supposed to have some responsibility and understand the risks involved," said Khan.
The Express contacted St Rose Greaves and asked whether she met with Khan and denied there was fertility treatment involved in the birth of the sextuplets.
St Rose Greaves opted not to answer the questions, saying the focus right now should be on the well-being of Lee Foon and her babies.
Contacted yesterday, chairman of the North-Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) Dr Shehenaz Mohammed said the hospital was put under pressure to ensure the best treatment of the sextuplets but was managing well with the co-operation of the San Fernando and Port of Spain General Hospitals.
She said once a high-risk baby was identified before birth at the hospital, that baby would be transported to another hospital for close care.
Mohammed said staff has been called in to ensure there is round-the-clock treatment of the sextuplets —rosters were re-organised so there are 36 nurses—two per baby for three daily shifts to monitor all the babies.
"(Multiple births) is not something I would recommend from a medical point of view," added Mohammed.
Sources told the Express that Lee Foon took the fertility drug Clomid, which stimulates ovulation.