Dr. Sextuplet will see you now; one of the Dilley six graduates IUSMEven at birth, Julian Dilley had a greater affinity for the hospital than his five siblings.
Written By: Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star
When the Dilley sextuplets were born nearly 26 years ago, they all spent time in the hospital, but Julian spent an extra month at Women's Hospital in Indianapolis, recovering from respiratory issues and bilateral hernias.
And now half of the sextuplets are pursuing careers in healthcare, and Julian, in particular, is poised to spend the rest of his life in a medical setting.
On Friday Julian may be the best known graduate among the 330 men and women earning medical degrees from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is headed for a career in orthopedics.
"If the reason why you're not severely behind or have severe complications is due to medicine," he said, "I think you have a greater appreciation for what it can do at a young age."
A quarter of a century ago, Julian, his three brothers, and two sisters became the country's only surviving sextuplets, sparking an instant celebrity for the family. For the most part, their parents managed to keep life as normal as possible for the sextuplets. But over the years, the siblings appeared on television multiple times with Diane Sawyer. Their ninth birthday occasioned a 90-minute prime time television special.
So far Julian, born second, is the only doctor of the six. One brother, Ian, is a pharmacist at Eli Lilly. Sister Claire is an emergency room nurse in Adams County. His other sister Brenna is studying law and his two other brothers Adrian and Quinn are pursuing military careers.
Julian said being one of six helped prepare him for medical school.
"Growing up in a team environment helped me in the clinical years, because healthcare is such a team-based career," he said. "It helped me work as part of a team."
Originally Keith and Becki Dilley thought they were expecting quintuplets. They prepared a nursery with five cribs and five pediatricians with five infant warmers stood by at Becki's caesarean delivery, ready to care for each expected child.
Five children in, however, the obstetrician saw a sixth, hiding behind his mother's spleen. Adrian's arrival transformed the Dilleys into what is thought to be the first group sextuplets born in this state.
Born May 25, 1993, the Dilley children were relatively healthy. One of the heaviest, Julian weighed nearly three pounds. By August, when Julian left the hospital, all of them were home.
As a child growing up outside of Fort Wayne, Julian stood out as the reader, the scientific one, said mother Becki. He loved microscopes and magnifying glasses.
When his sister Brenna developed one of her frequent ear infections or another sibling sustained an injury, Julian would be by his mother's side, watching her ministrations. Becki soon learned to hide her microscope from him, Ian and Claire.
"The three that have gone into medicine always played together. They would take care of their stuffed animals," she said. "They always had some sort of clinic going on."
Out of all the siblings, Julian said, he was the quiet one, the one least likely to take sides when arguments broke out.
"I'm the most reserved, the least strongly opinionated, like Switzerland," he said.
During high school at Belmont Senior High School, Julian took a course in health occupations and set his sights on a career in medicine.
After graduating from IUPUI four years ago, Julian entered medical school. While many of his classmates were too young to recognize his last name, some of the older ones and faculty knew it. But whenever he was called upon to share a fun fact about himself as an icebreaker, he'd know just what to say.
Learning about obstetrics and gynecology during medical school helped Julian understand just how fortunate he and his siblings were.
"It was very surprising that we made it as far as we did," he said. "I think we were pretty lucky in that sense."
His mother had thought he might enter neonatology or another field related to his own early life history but orthopedics spoke to him. Julian plans to start an orthopedics surgery residency upon graduation and to spend an extra, sixth year, in training to pursue a research track.
While 114 of his classmates will remain in Indiana for at least part of their residency, according to medical school statistics, there will be IU graduates in 36 states in addition to Indiana. Nearly 40 percent are pursing a primary care residency.
Although Julian and his siblings have entered adulthood, in some ways they haven't changed much from when they were younger, Becki Dilley said. In the last year of medical school, Julian lived at home for a few months while completing his medical training near Fort Wayne.
"He was still teenage Julian," his mother said. "A lot of times I would pick up energy cans and socks."
Next month Julian will move into an apartment he will share with Ian, the pharmacist. Those two were always "van buddies," responsible for one another, Becki said. She said that they will likely continue to look after one another, going to the gym together and sharing household duties. Ian likes to cook, Julian does not.
While Julian is not sure what comes after residency, he does know one thing: If he has a family, he does not want six children. One or two would be fine.