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Premature twins reunited after one sister’s three-month hospital stay

The parents of premature twin girls have described their experiences caring for one of their daughters at home while the other remained fighting for life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Emily and Hannah Crowe, from Cork in Ireland, were born by caesarean section at 32 weeks. After only a month, Hannah was able to return home, but Emily continued to need intensive care at Cork University Hospital for over three months.

Emily experienced breathing difficulties and was closely monitored by staff. Her mother Jennifer said “It was very unpredictable – there were good and bad days and the situation can change in a matter of hours”.

“My hardest day was putting Hannah in the car set and turning my back on Emily. I still get upset about it”, Jennifer said

She added “But Emily was where she needed to be and I would never rush her home. You knew she was in the hands of people saving her life. My whole trust was in them and I will never forget them”.

The girls’ father, Patrick, also said “The staff were like a mother to me. They would say ‘calm down and we will let you know if you need to panic’”.

Emily was discharged from hospital shortly before Christmas

Her mother reported that both her daughters, who are coming up to two years old, are thriving and meeting their milestones.

A recent documentary, Born Too Soon, broadcast on Virgin Media One in Ireland, follows the story of the twins and their family, as well as other premature babies born in the Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Jennifer and Patrick expressed their wish that watching the programme will give hope to parents who are in a similar situation to them, as well as showing viewers how medical advancements have now enabled hospitals to give the best chance to premature and unwell babies.

Jennifer said “If it helps just one other mother I will be happy”.

The producer of the documentary, Sarah Brophy, also experienced the challenge of having twins who required care in a neonatal unit. She said “A lot of people will know in advance their baby will need additional support and [this documentary] will give them hope and a lot of the staff do not get thanked enough”.

Outcomes for premature babies have been improving along with medical advancements

Research published in November 2023 by academics at the University of Leicester and Imperial College London found the number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation who survive to discharge from hospital tripled between 2018-19, before the BAPM guidance was introduced, and 2020-21, after the BAPM guidance was introduced.

According to this research, there were a total of 261 babies born alive at 22 and 23 weeks, before the UK abortion limit, who survived to discharge from hospital in 2020 and 2021. This is compared to the Government abortion statistics, which show that in 2021 alone, there were 1,054 abortions for babies at 22 and 23 weeks gestation.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “It is wonderful to hear the story of Emily and Hannah and that they were able to be reunited after several long months. This story and those of the other families being explored in Born Too Soon will hopefully fulfil the producer’s wish of giving hope to parents in a similar situation, as well as showcasing the amazing medical care in place for premature children”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.