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Against the odds: family from northern Saskatchewan welcomes quadruplets on leap day

The four babies share the rare birthday of Feb. 29

Aleah, Beautiful, Celia and Dominic were born Feb. 29 at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. (Gilbert Merasty)

A family from northern Saskatchewan marked the leap year like virtually no one else — by bringing quadruplets into the world.

Savannah Ratt and Gilbert Merasty welcomed Aleah, Beautiful, Cecelia and Dominick on Feb. 29, 2024, at the children's hospital in Saskatoon.

The four babies and mom are doing well, Merasty said.

"[Savannah] is doing really well. She's up and walking around, in high spirits," Merasty said.

The couple is from La Ronge, Sask., which is about 350 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

Ratt was staying close to Saskatoon because of the pregnancy, but Merasty works for a diamond company that's located even further north.

When Ratt called to say the babies were on their way and she needed him 'right now,' Merasty drove nine-and-a-half hours to the hospital.

"I just started freaking out. I didn't know what to do, but I made it safe and sound."

The babies were born two-months premature, so they are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and will need to stay in hospital for quite some time.

"They're hooked up to breathing tubes...one had to get a blood transfusion because they weren't doing too good," Merasty said, adding two had jaundice.

But ultimately, he said the babies are doing good.

4-year-old calls the babies his 'best friends'

Merasty said this new chapter of parenthood has been an amazing experience, but it's also been a juggling act trying to spend time with each child.

"I'm trying to visit one kid, but then you gotta jump to another one…just trying to put your attention equally among the four — and then your other ones, too."

The four babies are joining five other siblings in the family: Kyla, Gilbert, Kaitlyn, Kerrian and Surriah.

Merasty says the older kids are already adjusting to having four new siblings. His four-year-old has been excitedly talking to his new siblings, saying "hi babies, you're my best friends."

The quadruplets share a rare birthday.

According to a Statistics Canada post from 2020 — the last leap year — there were close to 25,000 Canadians who were born on a Feb. 29 as of July 2019. That amounts to 0.066 per cent of the 37.6 million population at the time.

According to the Associated Press, there are an estimated five million people worldwide born on Feb. 29.

Not surprisingly, it's less likely to be born on Feb. 29 than any other date simply because of how seldom it comes around.

The quadruplets will join their five siblings, pictured clockwise from top right, Kyla, Gilbert, Kaitlyn, Surriah and Kerrian. (Gilbert Merasty)
The quadruplets will join their five siblings, pictured clockwise from top right, Kyla, Gilbert, Kaitlyn, Surriah and Kerrian. (Gilbert Merasty)

The family will be staying in Saskatoon as the babies get stronger in the hospital.

"We'll be here for a while," Merasty said. "Family is helping out and we're gonna be going through Jordan's Principle to help us out a lot that way, too."

Jordan's Principle is a rule that ensures First Nations kids are able to access health care, social and educational supports when they need them, with questions about which jurisdiction pays for them to be worked out afterward.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family.