Sisters Who Were Born Six Weeks Prematurely Now Care for Premature Babies

National   |   Erin Parfet   |   Jan 3, 2017   |   11:16AM   |   Washington, DC

Many kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. Answers may range from president to astronaut to rocket scientist to lawyer to garbage collector.

Yet for two sisters born prematurely, the inspiring choice was straightforward: becoming nurses at Glasgow Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the same hospital where they were born, the Sunday Post reports.

“I would watch them turn sick children into healthy ones and thought I could do this when I grew up,” Ainsley Ballantyne said in reflection of the ongoing medical care she received as a child. “I just want to help other babies who face huge battles.”

Ainsley is now 26 years old caring for premature babies in the neonatal unit. Her sister Tiffany works with children in the accident and emergency (A&E) department, according to the report.

Complications during their mother’s pregnancy resulted in the miscarriage of Ainsley’s twin at 11 weeks gestation. Ainsley was born alive but six weeks prematurely with several health complications. Tiffany was also born prematurely.

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In the United Kingdom, 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year according to Tommy’s, a charity in England, Wales, and Scotland funding research into pregnancy complications with the goal of saving lives. More than one in 10 births globally result in premature birth, defined by the World Health Organization as birth before 37 weeks with different stages.

Premature birth is cited as the leading cause of newly born infants as well as children under age 5. In England, the survival rates have dramatically increased from 53 percent in 2006 to 80 percent in 2011, according to the organization.

In the United States, one in 10 babies are born prematurely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks to modern medical advances, however, more very premature babies are surviving and going on to lead normal lives. Viability, typically considered to be about 24 weeks, now is earlier with babies surviving after 23 or even 22 weeks in the womb.

In addition to their responsibilities as nurses, the Ballantyne sisters volunteered to collect and distribute Christmas presents for premature babies this year at Kinder Handl Children’s Center in Scotland, according to the Post.

“We wanted to make Christmas special for babies fighting to survive,” Ainsley said. “Many of the parents are miles from home and their families and the little presents mean so much to them.”

Despite their childhood struggles, these two girls have undeniably used their experiences to touch the lives of other children and families not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year.