Van Houten Sextuplets Father Dies at 39


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The father of the first surviving Michigan sextuplets who made headlines ten years ago suffered a heart attack and died Wednesday after setting up a trampoline for his children, a relative said Thursday. He was 39.

Ben Van Houten, who lived in Holland, passed away on Wednesday night, said Sue Herweyer of Dykstra Life Story Funeral Home. Holland is located in southern Michigan, about 90 miles west of Lansing.

In 2004, Van Houten's wife, Amy, gave birth to six children over three days at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. She was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 5, 2003 and stayed there on bed rest until the first birth, on Jan. 7, 2004. Four babies came Jan. 16 and the last, on Jan. 17.

The couple appeared on The Today Show to announce the births.

"Just to know Ben for even one day would be a blessing," father-in-law Calvin Reimink said.

Van Houten set up a trampoline in the yard of his home, and was playing with his children when the heart attack occurred, Reimink said.

"He was always spending time with the kids," Reimink said of Van Houten.

Van Houten died in the hospital, Reimink said.

"He thought the sun rose and set on those kids. They couldn't have had a better father than him," Reimink said.

Van Houten's father died of heart problems at age 40, Reimink said.

The 10-year-old sextuplets - four boys and two girls - were born at 24 and 25 weeks gestation and weighing between one and two pounds apiece. They spent several weeks in the hospital, maturing and gaining weight.

Two of them were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have special needs. The sextuplets also have a 7-year-old sister.

Ben Van Houten worked for TUV/SUD, a German engineering services firm.

Amy Van Houten has been too busy with the children to work outside the home and will find it challenging to manage seven children on her own, Reimink said of his daughter.

Services for Van Houten are pending at the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Home, an employee said.

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