News & Politics

The Pisner Quintuplets Are All Grown Up With Kids of Their Own

The Pisner Quintuplets Are All Grown Up With Kids of Their Own
Washingtonian chronicled the Pisners’ nerve-racking delivery in 1983 and followed the family for years. The top photo was taken when the quintuplets were two. Bottom: Recreating the shot today with six of the quints’ combined seven children. Present-day photographs by Lexey Swall; all others by Rhoda Baer.

Devin arrived first—3 pounds, 4 ounces—at 4:27 am. Ian was next, 3 pounds, then Shira, 2-6, and Michael, 2-15. One more, Dr. Allan Weingold thought before he reached for the fifth baby, let there be one more. Then came Elliot—2 pounds, 9 ounces—delivered at 4:29 am.

Pam and Dan just before the delivery.

It was June 21, 1983, nine months after Pam Pisner had begun taking hormone shots to try to get pregnant. Five months since she’d learned she was carrying five—five!—fetuses and agonized with her husband, Dan, over whether to abort or put some up for adoption, as a safeguard for her health or their quality of life. At the time, infertility treatments were new and quintuplets occurred only once in every 25 million births. The couple had chosen to carry all five. Now, tended to by more than two dozen doctors and nurses at George Washington University Hospital, the quints had arrived—a medical miracle.

The couple dressed the kids differently and had them separated in school so they could develop individual identities.

Washingtonian documented the Pisners’ incredible adventure from the beginning: the agonizing morning of the delivery, the army of helpers it took to keep everyone fed, the way Pam and Dan managed the complicated logistics of raising five kids. When we heard that four of the quints had become parents themselves, we couldn’t resist checking in. They all live in Washington, leading independent lives but still very close. “I married the family,” their spouses say.

Appearing in Washingtonian in 1993 at age ten. The Pisners turned down advertising opportunities, but the family was on The Phil Donahue Show, 20/20, and the cover of Life magazine.

Devin, a photographer and videographer for the Navy, and his wife, Lauren, of Gaithersburg, have Olivia, 2½, and Miles, seven months. Before he was born, Lauren joked that the other Pisners had used up so many first and middle names, nothing was left for their baby.

At 13, the quints celebrated their b’nai mitzvah.

Ian is a graphic designer and web developer for a Raleigh-based company and lives with his wife, Ella, in Silver Spring, eight minutes from Shira.

The couple dressed the kids differently and had them separated in school so they could develop individual identities.

Shira, a former events planner, was married to lawyer Matt Kundinger, who died unexpectedly of acute liver failure in December 2016. Their son, Benjamin, is 18 months.

In 2001, Devin, Michael, Elliot, Ian, and Shira (clockwise from lower left) graduated from Sherwood High in Sandy Spring.

Michael, a web developer for MediaGraphics, married his high-school sweetheart, Angie, who was Benjamin’s nanny. Their kids, Jordan and Joey, are 7½ and 2½.

Elliot, a software engineer for KeyW Corporation, and Becki, a psychiatric social worker, have Ethan, five, and Hannah, two. They live in Columbia but are house-hunting farther south to be nearer to the rest of the family.

Pam and Dan are retired. But unlike other empty-nesters, they upsized rather than downsized. A new sunroom on the back of the house in Olney accommodates the 18-and-counting Pisners. The couple volunteer to take care of the grandkids. Just not all at once.

Says Elliot: “I don’t know how they did it.”

A summer staycation last year at Pam and Dan’s home in Olney. “People would be surprised,” Shira says, “by the fact that we’re all pretty normal.”

This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Washingtonian.