A British family received a wonderful early Christmas present this year when doctors released their premature baby girls from the hospital.
Ava and Isla Bowen, of Bristol, England, are believed to be the smallest premature twins to survive in England, the Daily Mail reports. They returned home recently after spending more than three months in the hospital.
“At times we really didn’t think Isla would make it – but she did. I still can’t believe she’s here really. She’s amazing, she’s literally a miracle baby,” their mother, Rochelle, said.
Just 12 weeks into the pregnancy, Rochelle said she learned that the twins were not growing as fast as they should be. As the weeks went by and the news grew worse, doctors suggested that she have an abortion, but she refused.
Here’s more from the report:
Rochelle said doctors told her that the babies had to get to at least 28 weeks in order to survive – and that she was sent to see a specialist in London to discuss termination.
‘As time went on Isla was three or four weeks behind in development,’ she explained.
‘The problem was that if she had died in the womb then her sister could’ve had brain damage because they share the same blood flow.’
But she added: ‘I just took it week by week. And when I got to week 25 I thought, this is amazing. I never thought we’d get to this stage.’
The twins arrived 14 weeks early on July 7 at Southmead Hospital, according to the report. It was both a joyous and a frightening time for their parents.
“I was petrified of seeing them because they were so small but they looked perfectly formed, just smaller,” Rochelle said. “I actually thought Isla was going to be tinier than she was. I was expecting her to be around 14oz, but she was born at 17oz.”
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The twins battled through numerous heart, lung and eye problems, and Isla spent seven weeks on a ventilator. Rochelle said they were not able to even hold Isla until three weeks after her birth.
Ava, the healthier of the two, arrived home after 99 days in the hospital, while Isla spent 112 days there, according to the report. The sisters were reunited at home just in time for Christmas.
Their mother said the twins are doing very well now, and they are not suffering from any long-term medical issues as a result of their premature birth. She expressed her family’s deepest thanks to the hospital staff for caring for Ava and Isla.
“It’s such an amazing place. The days and months spent in the neonatal unit takes its toll on a family. But we were lucky, we feel really lucky,” she said. “It is hard to be in the hospital every day having to leave them all the time, so it’s nice to have them home. Now I can cuddle them and feed them all the time.”
This Christmas, many families will be celebrating with children who were born very prematurely. Recent technological advancements are helping more premature babies survive and thrive.
Earlier this fall, the journal Pediatrics highlighted a baby girl in the United States who survived after being born 21 weeks and four days after conception. The girl, who now is 3, is believed to be the youngest premature baby to survive.
A Duke University study published in January reported that babies born at just 23 weeks gestation are surviving outside the womb at a greater rate than ever before. Researchers examined 4,500 babies between 2000 and 2011 and found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.