The UK’s youngest pre-term babies, one of whom was given a 0% chance of survival, have celebrated their first birthday.

Jennie Powell, 41, went into labour at 22 weeks while on holiday in Cornwall in August last year with her husband Rich, 42.

The couple were rushed to the local hospital before being transferred 240 miles by HM Coastguard helicopter to a specialist neo-natal unit.

The following day, Jennie gave birth to two boys, who had been conceived through IVF.

Jenson was born weighing 535g and given 0% chance of surviving the first 48 hours, while Ruben weighed 590g and had between 20% to 30% chance of life.

The pair defied the odds and became the youngest surviving pre-term twin boys born in Britain after arriving at 22 weeks and six days.



They have now celebrated their first birthday and the family have been reunited with the helicopter crew and medical staff who saved their lives.

Jennie said: ‘It really is a story of hope and miracles. They defied every set of odds that they were given.’

Two years earlier, Jennie and Rich’s son Linnie died after being born at 23 weeks as a result of complications from a streptococcal B infection.

As a result, the twins’ pregnancy was being closely monitored.

The family, from Brighton, were on their annual trip to Cornwall when Jennie felt pain.

She recalled: ‘We were just at the end of two weeks away.

‘I was nervous, because of the timings, but it also meant I was much more aware of the warning signs. I felt some pain, and just knew that something wasn’t right.

‘We went straight to hospital, and it was suddenly all too familiar. The hospital ran tests and confirmed I was having contractions and my blood results indicated an infection.

‘Everything that followed, in the days after that, we can only describe as miraculous – every decision made by the people who were looking after us ensured that our boys survived and are here today.’

After experiencing pain, Jennie and Rich went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

The team gave Jennie steroids to help the unborn babies’ lungs and arranged for the family to be transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.



A HM Coastguard helicopter was dispatched from Newquay in a ‘life-saving’ mission.

Captain Jorg Brunner, co-pilot Ivan Hamilton, chief crewman Ian Copley and winchman-paramedic Niall Hanson took Jennie and midwife Jane Parke on the one-hour-and-15-minute flight to Oxford.

Jenson and Ruben were delivered by emergency caesarean section the following day – August 16th – at 4.20pm and 4.21pm respectively.

They each weighed the same as just half a bag of sugar.

Jennie added: ‘We were being prepared for the likelihood of saying goodbye to another child.’

At eight days post-delivery, Ruben had his first lifesaving operation after his intestines began failing when he developed necrotizing enterocolitis.

Meanwhile Jenson had his own issues, with weaknesses in his lungs.

The brothers are also the youngest to receive a vital eye injection to cure retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – the same condition which caused Stevie Wonder’s sight loss.

Dad Rich said: ‘The standard of care we received was outstanding.

‘The boys had it all – infections, more than 20 blood transfusions, sepsis, pneumonia, eye injections and laser surgery, hernia reversal, you name it.


‘The team at John Radcliffe were on top of everything.’

The coastguard and midwife returned to Cornwall as soon as they had dropped off Jennie and Rich.

They were all reunited at the boys’ first birthday this week and the twins were treated to lots of cuddles and a tour of the helicopter.

Jennie said: ‘After that day, Jane and the helicopter crew didn’t have any idea about what had happened to us – that the boys had survived.

‘Being able to meet them again on the anniversary is so, so wonderful.’

Rich added: ‘Today, the boys are thriving. 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.’