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quintuplets

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Mixed media
287 x 287 cm 2014

Nijhoff’s Quintuplet
On Sunday 12 July 1903, a quintuplet is born, an unique feat. The children are born after 25 weeks of pregnancy: way too early. They are, as expected, not full grown and each baby weighs about 600 grams. After being born, they live for another hour and then die. The mother recovers well and resumes work after a fortnight. The quintuplet is donated to the obstetrician.
Dr. G. C. Nijhoff, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Hospital in Groningen, concludes that the quintuplet consists of an identical triplet and a bin ovular twin. He determines this, by researching the umbilical cords and the amnion. The baby`s are photographed and after that submerged in a jar filled with a preservation fluid. The specimen is since then known as "the Quintuplet of Nijhoff".
In 1995 the then historical obstetrical collection of specimens is obsolete, it’s no longer useful for the education of students and physicians. New methods and needs leave the collection untended, neglected and put away in storage in a cellar. This neglect causes the decay, and ultimate the destruction of the quintuplet. Just a short time after that, the academic heritage is being conserved and treated as a real and valuable historical collection. Too late for Nijhoff`s quintuplet: only a few photographs remain.

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