Duke Rheumatologist Celebrates First Mother’s Day with Her Leap Day Baby

‘A blessing’ provides double the celebration for Kai Sun

Duke Health rheumatologist Kai Sun with newborn Chloe

Now, Sun has a new answer: She can share the improbable fact that both she and her daughter, Chloe, were born on a Leap Day.

Chloe arrived at 5:12 a.m. on Feb. 29, 2024, weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, born in the same hospital where Sun works. Chloe is the third child for Sun and Michael Paik.

Chloe joins 5-year-old sister Charis and 3-year-old brother Caleb in helping Sun mark a special Mother’s Day this year.

Kai Sun surrounded by her three children: son Caleb, daugther Charis and newborn Chloe
Kai Sun is surrounded by her children in this recent photo. Son Caleb, 3, is at left, daughter Charis, 5, is at right, and Sun holds newborn Chloe. Photo courtesy of Kai Sun

Sun, who came to Duke in 2017 as a rheumatologist and clinical researcher studying health disparities and medication adherence in patients with lupus, said Chloe is special for more than just the date on which she was born.

A year before her youngest child was born, Sun suffered a miscarriage. Then, an early ultrasound found an abnormality associated with miscarriage that left her and her husband on edge. The whole family contracted COVID during Sun’s first trimester, and during her third trimester, she tripped and fell on her belly.

“But everything was OK, thankfully,” Sun said.

All the while, Sun knew that her due date was Feb. 26 – just a few days before her own birthday. When it came time to schedule an induction, she asked her doctor if they could go just a couple days past her due date for the chance to share a special birthday with her child.

Her reasoning was that both her previous two children were born past their due dates, and there was a good chance the same would happen with her third child.

Plus, having a couple extra days to work before taking maternity leave allowed her to spend some time with research she had secured a grant for last fall.

“And we thought that it would be special if she was also born on a Leap Day,” Sun said.

Chloe’s improbable arrival on the rare date that coincides with her own mother’s birthday was so astounding that People magazine wrote about it, and Good Morning America broadcast it.

And she is special, Sun said.

Newborn Chloe Paik, daughter of Kai Sun
Chloe Paik, daughter of Kai Sun and Michael Paik, has a rare Leap Day birthday – which she shares with her mother. Photo courtesy of Kai Sun

“I feel like she is a blessing to our family; I feel blessed,” she said. “I know that having a healthy baby is not something to be taken for granted.”

As she was growing up, Sun celebrated her birthday on March 1 during non-Leap Years. She went through a phase when she was older when her friends sang “Happy Birthday” at midnight on Feb. 28. More recently, she’s had cake on Feb. 28.

Now, though, she envisions a new tradition: She and Chloe can celebrate their birthday on both Feb. 28 and March 1 during years when their actual birth date doesn’t occur.

After all, there’s double the reason to celebrate, now.

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