Scottish twin brothers Reuben and Simon McKenna struggled for their lives after they were born three months early in August 2021.
For the first few weeks, the premature infants were too fragile for their parents to hold, and the neo-natal intensive care nurses placed them in plastic bags to keep warm.
Now, the little boys are thriving at home with their parents.
“A year later from taking them home, they are just about walking and babbling away. You would never know the extraordinary story of their birth,” their father, Peter McKenna, 33, told Edinburgh Live.
Back in 2021, the couple were thrilled to learn that they were pregnant with twins after struggling with infertility, according to the report.
“We found out they were twins at the 10-week scan. When we saw there were two little heartbeats, our mouths just dropped. We were so excited but terrified, too,” McKenna said.
However, his partner, Charlotte, did not have an easy pregnancy and, after an episode of heavy bleeding, thought they might lose their boys, he continued. But both boys survived.
Then, on Aug. 9, Charlotte began experiencing an unusual pain in her stomach on their way home from a wedding, McKenna said. When he rushed her to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, doctors told them that their twins would have to be born right away, according to the report.
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Here’s more from the report:
Charlotte had cord prolapse which meant the umbilical cord was coming out before the babies and there was a chance it could get wrapped around one of their necks choking them.
“Once the medics knew this was the situation suddenly it went from just us and a doctor in the room to around 12 people. We were told Charlotte would need an emergency C-section straightaway under general anaesthetic,” [he said.]
On August 10, Reuben was born weighing 1 pound, 8 ounces, and Simon was born weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces, according to the report.
For the first two weeks, McKenna said they had to look at the boys through glass because they were too small and fragile. Holding them for the first time, he said, “was such a special unexplainable moment I will never forget.”
Every week brought new ups and downs, and the boys fought complications with their lungs. But every day, McKenna said they watched their sons grow stronger and stronger.
“We went in every day to feed them, and eventually one day we could lift them up with no equipment – the doctor came in and said we could take them home. This was early November, three months after they were born,” he said.
McKenna praised the hospital staff for taking such good care of the boys and supporting him and Charlotte through the overwhelming time.
“We were there for around three months in total, and the nurses in the ward were absolutely fantastic – you couldn’t find a better team to manage a ward like that. The whole experience was traumatic and life-changing,” he said.
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 in California. 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.
Recent studies out of Duke University and the New England Journal of Medicine have found that a growing percent of premature infants are surviving as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. The research recently prompted the British Association of Medicine to issue new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at just 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.