US woman Ashley Ness births two sets of twins at once - a one in 10 million rarity

Ashley Ness pregnant with her four ultrasounds
Photo credit: GoFundMe / Financial Support for Unexpected Miracles

If someone is described as 'one in a million', you know they're pretty special; well, a woman who had two sets of identical twins - during the same birth - has inadvertently become one in 10 million after the extremely rare occurrence. 

American mum Ashley Ness, 35, gave birth to her quadruplets – two girls and two boys – on July 28 (local time) via caesarean section at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Speaking to People, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed the newborns arrived roughly 12 weeks premature and will spend eight weeks in an intensive care unit.

"Everyone is doing well so far and recovering because it was a busy night," the spokesperson said.

The four siblings arrived roughly one minute apart during the delivery, People reports. Ness has been in hospital since July 6 due to the delicate nature of her pregnancy.

"The babies decided to make their entrance to the world sooner than expected," Ness, a part-time hair stylist who had previously struggled to conceive, said in an interview with the magazine

"I feel amazing."

A pregnancy like Ness' is a "one in 10 million" rarity, Dr Ahmet Baschat, director of the Center for Fetal Therapy and a professor in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, previously told People.

"If she were playing the lottery, if she's this lucky - she would be very rich," he said.

The phenomenon occurs when two eggs are fertilised simultaneously by two different sperm before both the eggs split, Baschat said. Because each divided egg remains encased in its own placenta - unlike traditional quadruplets, where each of the four would represent an individually fertilised egg and be encased separately - two sets of identical twins are the result.

"It's a high-risk pregnancy," Baschat told People ahead of Ness' delivery. "That variety I haven't seen.

"We see a lot of rare stuff, but this is the first time I'm hearing this in my entire career."

As per the article, Ness had been at an appointment to renew her birth control when she discovered she was pregnant. Two weeks later, she was informed she was carrying two sets of twins – much to the shock of the ultrasound technician.

The technician told People that in their shock, they left the room to Google if two sets of twins at once was actually possible.

Ness is already mum to two stepsons - her 47-year-old partner Val's youngest children - and her eight-year-old daughter Chanel, but suffered four miscarriages in the following years. Unsure whether she'd be able to conceive again, the news that she was pregnant with not only twins, but two sets of twins, understandably came as a "big shock" to the 35-year-old. 

Twins do indeed run in Ness' family, according to the outlet; her mother had twin brothers, her grandfather was a twin and her aunt had twins. Val's mother is also a twin, and his sister gave birth to twins.

Friends of Ness and Val have supported the couple by establishing a GoFundMe page in a bid to help the family with their finances, noting that the cost of raising the four newborns will be exorbitant. 

"Ashley and her boyfriend are thrilled and overwhelmed. They already have four children between them. The expenses, even now, are adding up. They need help. LOTS OF HELP!" the friends wrote on the fundraiser.

"She lives on a part-time hairdresser's income, and he's a small engine mechanic. They will need lots of support as quadruplets require hospital trips, home care, lots of diapers, and other necessities. The average cost to raise one child is 17k per year. The average cost for quadruplets is above 68k. These expenses do not include specialised treatments for preemies."

At the time of writing, 462 people have donated, raising more than US$21,220 for the family.

"It's truly been just a blessing after a blessing," Ness told the outlet. 

"I was like, oh man, I'm going to mix them up. I'm going to forget who's who. They're going to play tricks on me. This is going to be crazy."

According to the publication, the four newborns have already been named; the two girls are Chesley and Chatham, and the two boys are Chance and Cheston.