Identical twins flourishing at home after parents reject advice to abort one of them

Premature twins, Finn and Zack Bishop, are now flourishing at home after being born at 28 weeks, and just one day after doctors advised their parents to have an abortion.

At 24 weeks, mother Caroline Bishop underwent pioneering surgery to correct a condition which was causing an uneven blood flow between the babies, meaning Zack received more nutrients than Finn.

During the otherwise successful surgery, Zack suffered with a bleed in the brain.

He was later diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia, a type of brain injury common in babies who have had a bleed in the brain. The severity of the condition can cause minimal issues in some children and disability in others.

However, doctors warned Caroline and her husband Matt that Zack may never walk or talk and advised them to consider a termination at 28 weeks.  

Caroline revealed she was “devastated” and “began to consider a termination” based on the advice of medics.

However, the next day her waters broke and the twins were delivered by caesarean section at 28 weeks and two days.

Both babies were taken to the neonatal intensive care unit at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Herts so they could be monitored.

Shortly after, Caroline and Matt were rushed to the unit to say goodbye to Zack.

“I was rushed in my hospital bed to the unit as they thought we were going to lose him,” Caroline revealed to the Metro.

“But he was saved by my cuddle, I was sobbing whilst holding him on my chest – he was completely still but then he moved a couple of times and after a while he was placed back in the incubator.

“A few days later, Finn caught sepsis. He was flopped and pale but thankfully he was pumped with antibiotics and saved.”

Both Finn and Zack began to recover, and their mother knew, from then on, they’d survive.

Finn was discharged from hospital after 76 days, while Zack was discharged after 107 days.

Flourishing

Now a year old, both babies are flourishing at home with their older brother Sam, six.

Zack is disabled, but is now starting to reach “mini-milestones” his mother said.

Not only that, but he has defied the odds and doctors’ expectations to learn how to walk and talk with the help of his twin.

Finn and Zack love hearing stories side-by-side and high-fiving at the dinner table, their Caroline shared.

“The twins have such a sweet bond, they often hold hands in the buggy or wake one another up to have a babble at 5am.

“They always share food and laugh at each other which is great fun to watch. They are always smiling at one another and even at their young age – sharing their toys.

“I was terrified when I found out it was twins at the nine-week scan – I was worried because my older son, Sam was born at 34 weeks.

“I could just about cope with one child never mind three but now I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

“At the start it was all very worrying and scary – but now, it is so different. I love Zack for the child he is and his disability doesn’t matter anymore. We will face the challenges together.”

The twins are already showing their individual personalities at just a year old, with their mum describing Finn as a “little pickle who is into everything” while Zack is “laid-back and sweet”.

She added: “It is amazing having them both together and now I treasure every special moment.”

Inspirational boy with ‘no brain’ named children’s charity ambassador after parents refuse abortion 5 times

An eight-year-old, born with spina bifida and only 2% of his brain, has been named as the newest Young Ambassador for Variety children’s charity, a group which supports disabled and disadvantaged children.

Doctors did not expect Noah Wall to live more than a few days and advised his parents, Shelley and Rob Wall, to consider abortion on five separate occasions.

But they refused, wanting to give their baby boy the chance of a healthy life, and Noah has been defying expectations ever since.

He’s starting to read, loves numbers, and, determined to fulfil his dreams, has already ticked off an impressive range of adventurous activities like horse riding, surfing and skydiving.

Speaking about his new role, Noah said: “I’m so excited to be a Variety Young Ambassador! It will be a pleasure to help raise lots of money for all the children who are disabled – because it’s good to give.”

Miracle baby

Describing the day Noah was born Shelly told the Mail: “The day he was born was amazing. We waited with baited breath.”

The couple were admitted to hospital a week before Noah was due to be born because the pressure on his brain was becoming dangerous.

There were twelve doctors in the operating theatre as experts performed a caesarean section and as Noah came into the world, he gave the doctors a sign.

Rob said: “He let out this amazing scream. We knew there was power there.”

Scans of Noah’s brain shortly after his birth show he had just 2% of his brain.

Miraculously, he kept on growing and so did his brain.

Medical professionals stunned

By the age of three, his brain had grown to a remarkable 80 percent of what it should be and is now nearly fully-functional, leaving medical professionals stunned.

Last year, Noah, who is paralysed from the waist down, moved his foot for the first time after undergoing pioneering therapy designed to alter the way the brain sends messages to his limbs.

Now the family sends regular updates to the doctors who told them Noah wouldn’t make it.

Shelly said: “He’s extraordinary. We send them emails and pictures and we take them presents at Christmas time.”

Every year, Noah gives out hundreds of Christmas presents to staff and patients at Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle – the hospital he was born in. With more therapy, it is hopeful he will one day deliver gifts on foot.

Rob said on the documentary, The Boy Without a Brain: “We were offered termination five times. It was never an option for us. To me, we wanted to give Noah that chance of life.”

“To hear his brain’s almost back to normal is beyond belief,” Shelly added.

“Rob and I broke down when we heard the news. It was like a dream. I’ve never known anything like it. Even the consultants were in tears. Every time we see the doctors, they just shake their head. They’re just amazed at what he can do.”

Claire Nicholson, Noah’s consultant neurosurgeon, said in 2016: “He has surprised us through his life so far. He’s completely remarkable.”

She added that Noah teaches the medical profession that “you can’t ever know, doesn’t matter how many statistics you throw at something”.

Noah is just one of many babies who have defied the odds. 

Estimates have predicted that 80 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with spina bifida, each year, are aborted.

However, pro-life campaigners are hopeful that now the surgery has been made routinely available on the NHS the number of unborn babies terminated each year will fall.

Miracle baby leaves hospital after being born at 23 weeks

Baby Millie Bushell is now at home with her parents following a nearly 15 week stay in hospital after being born at just 23 weeks – 17 weeks prematurely and one week before the legal abortion limit.

Since her premature birth, Millie has been at three different hospitals and had a score of treatments, including a heart operation, treatment for seven infections, and multiple blood transfusions – all during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tiffany said: “It’s still not her due date but she’s home and she’s 15 weeks old [last] Sunday. It’s just crazy.”

Matthew added: “We’re out of the woods but we had to fight out of the woods.”

An ‘absolute miracle’

Tiffany and Matthew Bushell had dreamed of starting a family since they met 12 years ago. 

However, they quickly ran into fertility issues once they started trying to conceive. 

After four or five years and an IVF treatment, Tiffany became pregnant with their first daughter, Ruby. Just 24 weeks in, however, Tiffany went into labour and Ruby was born weighing just 1lb 5oz.

Tragically, Ruby didn’t survive.

A year later, Tiffany and Matthew  were shocked to learn they were pregnant again, this time without fertility treatments. 

And, when she went into labour at 23 weeks, she felt history was about to repeat itself after losing Ruby just 18 months earlier. 

“The pregnancy was going really well,” Tiffany told The Mirror. “I was obviously being monitored for anything because of what happened last time, and then at 20 weeks I went in for a routine scan and my cervix was open, so I was taken down for surgery to put a stitch in place. Then three weeks later Millie decided she was coming.

“My waters broke at home so we went to Watford, but we had to be transferred to Chertsey in Surrey, as it was safer for her to be delivered in a level three neo-natal unit because she was so premature.”

Millie was born at St Peter’s Hospital, Cherstey at 2.06pm on 26 April. 

Initially, she did not require a ventilator, however, after two days she began to have difficulty breathing and was immediately put on one.

According to her parents, “that was when everything started to happen.” 

During her nearly 15 week stay, Millie had a score of treatments, including a heart operation, treatment for seven infections, and multiple blood transfusions – all during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition, she was transferred to different hospitals twice — once for heart surgery at St Thomas’s in London and a second time to move closer to her parents home at Watford General Hospital. 

“She had chest infections from being ventilated, she had the hole in the heart which every baby is born with but they close within the first few hours, but Millie was so premature it didn’t close,” explained Tiffany.

Despite multiple infections, she has continued to grow and feed well and weighed 5lb 4oz when she was allowed to go home with her parents in August.  

Millie still has a long journey ahead of her, according to her father: “She’s on oxygen 24 hours a day but a nurse comes every week, so we’re hoping it’s going to be reduced to 23 hours soon.

“As she grows up we’re always going to tell her how strong and special she is. We must have taken 2,000 photos to show her when she is older. We’ll also tell her about Ruby.

“She’s had a tough start but what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. And we are so happy and very proud to be her parents.”

New guidance

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting the creation of new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today it is four out of ten, according to the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

Once a baby passes 22 weeks, the chances of survival increase week-by-week due to technical advances, better healthcare planning and the increased use of steroids.

The increased survival rates have prompted calls to review the current law in order to help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies.

Time for change

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said: “This is something that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008.

“There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end.

“Independent polling from Savanta ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

“This change in guidance adds further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb. 

“It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

Girl born with vital organs outside body is flourishing after parents refused abortion

A two-year-old from Cambridge born with her stomach, liver and bowel on the outside of her body continues to defy the odds after her parents rejected advice from doctors to have an abortion.

Doctors did not expect Laurel Phizacklea, who was born with a major exomphalos – a condition which occurs when the baby’s abdominal wall does not form during pregnancy – to survive birth.

They advised her parents, Kelly and Sean, to consider abortion following a 12-week scan. But they refused, wanting to give their daughter a chance at life, now Laurel continues to defy expectations.

Over the past two years, skin has formed around the organs, and Laurel can eat, drink and go to the toilet like any other toddler.

At the beginning of 2021, the little fighter should be able to have corrective surgery placing her vital organs back inside her body.

Blindsided

Kelly and Sean were over the moon when they discovered they were expecting their first child in October 2017.

The couple excitedly attended their 12-week scan but were blindsided when doctors said something was wrong and offered them a termination.

Doctors explained that their unborn baby had exomphalos.

Early in all pregnancies, the intestine develops inside the umbilical cord and then usually moves inside the abdomen a few weeks later.

In exomphalos, the intestines – and in this case the stomach, liver and bowel – remain inside the umbilical cord but outside the abdomen.

‘It’s OK, you can try again’

Doctors were also determined that Laurel had a spinal abornomality – and advised Kelly and Sean to have an abortion.

“We couldn’t quite believe what we were hearing when they offered us an abortion,” Kelly told the Mail.

“People kept saying: ‘It’s OK, you can try again’ – but I didn’t want another baby.

“I was so in love with this baby and we knew we would do everything we could for her.”

‘From that moment on we knew she was a fighter’

Kelly continued with her pregnancy and went for scans every two weeks to monitor the progress of her unborn baby.

Three weeks before Laurel’s birth, doctors discovered the exomphalos had doubled in size – prompting medics to take both Kelly and Sean aside to tell them their daughter would not survive birth.

However, on June 6th 2018, Laurel let out a cry after being delivered by caesarean section.

“When we heard her cry out I couldn’t believe it,” Kelly said. “Both Sean and I just burst into tears.

“We knew it was far from the end of it – but to hear her cry was a huge relief and from that moment we knew she was a fighter.”

Laurel was born weighing a healthy 7lb 5oz (3.3kg), and put straight on a ventilator before being transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit.

After seven hours, Kelly and Sean were finally able to meet their daughter properly for the first time.

“Her tummy was swaddled in bandages,” Kelly said. “We knew to expect it to look different – so we weren’t scared at all.”

Kelly and Sean were provided with a room at the hospital by the Sick Children’s Trust so they could be with their daughter during her three and a half month stay in Addenbrookes Hospital.

Doctors were worried that Laurel wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own, as it is common in exomphalos cases for the lungs not to have formed properly – but again Laurel defied the odds.

A bright future

Now, the two-year-old is flourishing at home as she awaits corrective surgery to have her organs internalised at the beginning of 2021.

Laurel will undergo the operation at King’s College Hospital, London.

Kelly said: “It is a scary thought, and there are definitely concerns.

“But Laurel has already been through so much, and I am sure she will continue to take everything in her stride.”

Although it will be a relief for both Kelly and Sean when they don’t have to worry about their daughter’s every move, they do worry that it will cause a certain amount of separation anxiety for the tot.

“She loves her tummy so much,” explained Kelly. “She rubs it in the bath when I take the dressing off to wash her and says ‘ah tummy’.

“It’s very cute, and she couldn’t be prouder of it. But I do worry about how she’ll react when it’s not there anymore.”

She added: “I don’t know how we remained positive throughout my pregnancy with Laurel. It really looked as if she wouldn’t survive birth, but Sean and I never gave up hope and she has done us so proud.

“Her pouch of organs on her tummy is a part of her and she doesn’t let it get her down. Laurel is a true inspiration and amazes us every day.”