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Great Britain

World’s tiniest twin boys defy the odds after being born at 23 weeks weighing less than 1lb each

MUM Talia Keates cradles her “little miracles” — the world’s tiniest twin boys.

Ashley and Joe each weighed less than 1lb when born at 23 weeks.

The Brit mum says the boys are her “one in a million” after they defied astonishing odds to survive.

Doctors gave her 15.1oz son Joe a one per cent chance to live.

But he and battler brother Ashley — 14.2oz at birth — are now healthy at seven months.

Born at just 23 weeks, they are the smallest twins to survive in the UK.

Each weighed less than a 500ml bottle of water, and were barely bigger than Talia’s hand.

Only American sisters Rumaisa and Hiba Rahman, born in 2004, were tinier.

Nurse Talia, 32, a mother of six from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, said: “Ashley and Joe are my bouncing little miracles.

“I feel extremely lucky and very grateful. I guess they are one in a million.

“It’s truly extraordinary to think I could have the world’s smallest twin boys.”

Doctors feared for Joe when his separate amniotic sac ruptured prematurely. After birth the twins spent 129 days in intensive care.

'TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE'

Talia added: “The doctors gave Joe just a one per cent chance after what he’d gone through.

“And the consultant said it was incredibly rare for both twins to survive with such low birth weights.

“Studies have also shown premature boys are less likely to do as well as girls. It just goes to show what incredible fighters they are.

“With all these terrible predictions we just had to focus on each day in the hospital and each milestone.”

Husband Oliver, 35, added: “It has been a very traumatic experience but we are just so truly grateful they are here.

“It has definitely brought us closer together as a family.

“We’ve been so blessed, they are our little miracle babies that complete our family.”

It’s truly extraordinary to think I could have the world’s smallest twin boys.

Talia Keates

The boys were born on April 16 — Ashley at 14.2oz (403g) and Joe 15.1oz (429g).

They were allowed home in August and are doing well. Ashley is big enough for newborn clothes and Joe is size 0-3 months.

Talia and mechanic Oliver only discovered their twins were the smallest after reading about a previous set, Rylea and Robyn Comer. Rylea weighed 15oz and Robyn 1lb 4oz.

Keith Reed, of Twins Trust, confirmed: “Ashley and Joe are the smallest we have heard of in the UK. It’s great news to hear that they are doing so well.

“It is thanks to the brilliant hospital staff for looking after tiny babies so well. This just shows why specialist care is so important.”

SURPRISE BABY

Talia and Oliver were thrilled after learning they were expecting a baby surprise — then discovered it was twins.

But at 17 weeks, there were signs of problems in the pregnancy.

Three weeks later Talia’s waters broke and the boys were born after 23 weeks. They were so premature their eyes were fused shut.

Talia added: “When we had the problems before birth, we were told to consider a termination. Then Joe’s waters broke early and they told me he may not survive and could die at birth.

“I went into labour and had Joe naturally, and Ashley by caesarean section afterwards.

“They were close together so there was a risk. They are twins but they had separate sacs.”

Staff at Southmead Hospital in Bristol were supported by the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Somerset.

The boys were rushed into critical care where they remained for a few months.

Talia could not touch her newborns initially. She added: “On the neonatal unit they say there is a honeymoon period for about a week where they don’t get infections.

“But after that the infections started to come. It was awful, you never know if they are going to survive.

“We spent 129 days in the unit, and when they were stable enough we got transferred to a hospital closer to home. The boys are still on oxygen but that’s about it.

“Ashley was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, it’s all to do with his chronic lung disease.

"I don’t really know much about it, they both have chronic lung disease because they were born so premature.

“As they get bigger they will get over it because their lungs grow.

“When they were born they were a little longer than my hand but much thinner.

“But I wasn’t able to touch them at first. They said that if you touch them it really distresses them because their skin is so thin.

“I had to wait five weeks for a cuddle. They weren’t much bigger then though.

"I’m so grateful to Bristol Southmead hospital, they have been amazing, and the Royal United Hospital in Bath.”

The boys’ consultant Dr Paul Mannix said: "The odds are stacked against such tiny babies, let alone when they are twins.

“But Joe and Ashley were real fighters and we were over the moon we could help them make such a miraculous journey to full health.”

The odds are stacked against such tiny babies, let alone when they are twins.

Dr Paul Mannix

Talia, also mum to Imogen, eight, Jacob, seven, Theo, five, and Sebastian, three, added: “It has been a dramatic, emotional and long journey.

"It is still a long road ahead. We have regular check-ups and milestones to meet. The boys are just starting to smile and chuckle.

A hospital at its best

By Camilla Kingdon, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

TWINS born at 23 weeks with such low weights is an extraordinary event. I am not aware of it happening before.

The fact that they have survived and are now back home is testament to their family and the team at Southmead Hospital.

Modern perinatal and neonatal care is constantly advancing. It relies on teamwork between obstetricians, neonatologists, midwives, nurses and many others.

We now regularly see babies born at 23 weeks surviving and doing well.

Twin pregnancies are more complicated so this makes this story very special.

It is also a reflection of the very best of the NHS — and the hard work and commitment of dozens of dedicated staff.

“Joe weighs 11lbs and Ashley is just under 8lbs but we’re trying to beef him up a bit.

“They still are on oxygen which comes in portable packs but we have had to find a way to cope on the school run, for example.

“But as each day goes by I can breathe a bit more easily. They are all worth it. I’m loving it all.”


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