Twins Born at 22 Weeks, One Week Before Legal Abortion Limit, Celebrate Their First Birthday

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 20, 2019   |   1:55PM   |   London, England

Ruben and Jenson Powell are “thriving” one year after their severely premature birth.

The British twins were born at 22 weeks and six days of pregnancy in 2018, making them the youngest surviving premature twin boys in England, The Christian Institute reports. The family recently celebrated the twins’ first birthday.

“The boys had it all – infections, more than 20 blood transfusions, sepsis, pneumonia, eye injections and laser surgery, hernia reversal, you name it,” their father, Rich, said. “Today, the boys are thriving.”

A year ago, the family was on vacation in Cornwall when their mother, Jennie, began to feel severe pains, according to the report. They went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro where doctors said she would soon have to give birth. They transferred her to a special neo-natal unit, and Ruben and Jenson were born a short time later by emergency cesarean section, the report states.

The twins were tiny: Ruben weighed 20.8 ounces and Jenson weighed 18.8 ounces. Their parents said the doctors thought that Ruben might survive but Jenson almost certainly would not.

As the weeks went by, though, both boys fought for their lives. They battled through surgeries, blood transfusions, sepsis and other problems, and eventually grew well enough to be released from the hospital.

“They will continue to have chronic lung disease until they are about three, which can make them more vulnerable to colds and infections, requiring oxygen support, but otherwise they are doing really well,” their father said.

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Modern medical advances are enabling younger and smaller premature babies to survive and thrive. The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth. Born in California in December 2018, baby Saybie was deemed well enough to go home in May.

The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story.

However, abortion laws have not caught up with these advances. Ruben and Jensen were born eight days before the legal abortion limit in England: 24 weeks. Yet, the country still allows unborn babies to be aborted for any reason up to that point and even later in limited cases.

Parents of premature babies have been urging the British parliament to consider an earlier abortion limit because of advances in medical technology that have pushed back the point of viability.

A 2017 Duke University study found that babies born at 23 weeks 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.

Research published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study also found that some hospitals do not treat babies at this early age.