Premature twins born before legal abortion limit now flourishing at home

Premature twins born five days apart have beaten the odds to become among the youngest to survive premature birth in Britain.

Dolly was born at just 23 weeks and one day weighing just 1lb and 1oz (482g). Five days later Albert was born weighing 1lb 6oz (624g).

The twins are now flourishing at home with parents Shona and Darren.

Dental nurse Shona Jeffery’s pregnancy had been developing as expected until she went into labour when she was just 22 weeks and six days pregnant.

After rushing to her local hospital, the couple were told that their babies were too young to save.

“They said there was nothing they could do for us and sorry that we had lost our babies as they was under the 23 weeks,” Shona told the Sun.

“They had no facilities to help if they arrived. They would just pass them to us once they had been born and they then put us in a room for this to happen.”

But, despite her waters breaking and contractions beginning, Shona did not give birth.

Then, as the clock struck midnight Darren and Shona received some hopeful news.

As Shona had reached 23 weeks – one week shy of the 24-week legal limit for abortions in England and Wales – doctors were willing to intervene and try and save the babies.

Shona was given steroids to help boost the twins’ still-growing lungs and she was sent by ambulance to Brighton Hospital.

The couple were warned that if the twins were delivered on the way to Brighton that they’d not survive the journey.

“Thankfully, we made it there fine,” Shona said.

One day later, two teams of specialists helped deliver Dolly at 23 weeks and one day.

Surprisingly, Shona’s labour stopped.

Doctors then told Shona she could deliver the second twin at any point but could also end up going full term.

However, the wait wasn’t too long.

Five days later Albert was delivered naturally, at 23 weeks and 6 days.

“That was when the real battle began. Watching them fighting for their life each day,” Shona said.

“But every day they grew a little bit more and became a little bit stronger.”

Both twins needed eye surgery and Dolly had an operation to fix a hole in her heart.

In March, Albert, the stronger of the twins was discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit and was allowed home.

And last month, to the family’s joy, Dolly also left hospital.

Darren, a landscape gardener said: “Against the odds our little miracles have survived and shocked everyone and have come home.

“Every doctor we have spoken to said we should count our lucky stars. They are just so precious to us.”

Dr Asma Khalil, a spokesman for Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association), said: “The fact that these babies are now doing well is incredible.

“Twin pregnancies delivered at 23 weeks would have far poorer chances of survival compared to a singleton pregnancy.

“Of babies born at 23-24 weeks, only about 50 per cent would survive and 50 per cent of the survivors would have some sort of disability.

“It would be fair to say that in circumstances where twins are born this early, most doctors would be preparing the family for the worst.

“So the fact these babies are now doing well, months on, is incredible.”

Last year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

Additionally, a recent study has revealed the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems.

Sadly, it is currently legal in Great Britain to abort unborn babies up to 24 weeks, or up to birth if doctors believe the baby will be born with a disability.

In 2018, the latest year with published data, 845 live births were recorded in England of babies with a gestational age of less than 24 weeks, according to the Office for National Statistics

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “It has been over a decade since abortion time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. Since then the survival rate for premature babies has doubled.

“Our current abortion time limit, at 24 weeks, is way out of line with medical breakthroughs and the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks, making time limits an issue Parliament should urgently revisit.”“Additionally, independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below.”

Premier League star opens up on premature birth of daughter at 24 weeks

Premier League footballer Ben Mee has opened up on the recent premature birth of his daughter who was born 16 weeks early.

The Burnley captain told BBC Five Live how he and his wife, Sarah, had been on a “rollercoaster” of emotions following the birth of their daughter, Olive Grace, who was born at 24 weeks and four days weighing just 1 pound 2 ounces (510g).  

Fortunately, despite being born 16 weeks early, Olive has progressed well and is just another example of the increasing survival rates for premature babies.

Mee revealed that his daughter has recently had her breathing mask removed and that he and Sarah have been able to visit her at the same time, after initially only being able to do so individually.

“My wife was in and out of hospital for a number of weeks before she eventually arrived, she had a tear in her placenta which ended up increasing in size,” he said.

“We knew she was going to come at some stage early, … we just wanted to get as far as possible with the pregnancy and give her the best chance, really.

“We’re still going through it, we’re not at the end of it… but the rollercoaster seems to have settled down a little bit and she’s progressing really well.

“She’s been increasing really well in her breathing. … This morning we’ve just had good news that she’s gone onto high-flow. …We’ve literally just seen in a picture that she’s had her hat off and her mask off for the first time.

“We can see pretty much her full face now, so we’re excited to go and see her.

“With everything that was going on, we had to go in separately to go in and see her, which was challenging. We couldn’t see her together. That’s changed the last couple of weeks, so it’s been nice to be able to go and see her together.”

When asked if the birth of his premature daughter changes his view on life, Mee responded: “I think so, definitely. To see a life so small and so delicate, it definitely changes your perspective on things. I think kids do anyway, in general, but certainly to see that, you sort of grow as a person and it changes your outlook on things.”

Last month, Mee celebrated the birth of Olive after heading in the winning goal against Crystal Palace by mimicking the cradling of a baby.

Mee joined Burnley in 2011, and he has since gone on to make 300 appearances for the club. In 2016, he was named player of the season as Burney were promoted from the championship into the Premier League.

In the 2018/19 season, Mee was just one of three outfield Premier League players to play every single minute of every match.

Last year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

Born at just 21 weeks, one of the world’s youngest surviving premature babies now flourishing

A premature baby boy born at just 21 weeks and weighing just 13oz (0.37kg) is now flourishing and has been allowed to go home with his mother and father.

Born on 20 December, smaller than the size of an adult’s hand, Jemarius Jachin Harbor Jr is believed to be one of the youngest surviving premature babies in the world.

Jemarius’ mother, Jessica McPherson, has a history of premature labour and has previously lost two premature babies at 22 weeks. When Jessica went into labour at just 21 weeks she and her fiancé, Jemarius Harbor Sr, remember asking doctors to try and save Jemarius’s life, despite the odds.

“I just want you to try as long as you try that’s all that matters to me, don’t just up and say that you can’t do it. Just ‘cause you haven’t done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Jessica told Fox 5 News.

Gina Phillips, Director of Medical Services at Pregnancy Aid Clinics, told the news channel at the time that Jemarius’ survival “would be [nothing] short of a miracle”, and put his survival chances at just four percent.

However, the little fighter battled on and is now believed to be the youngest surviving premature baby at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia, US.

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 you pass 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.

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.”

Hospital’s youngest surviving premature baby now home

A hospital’s youngest premature baby who was born more than four months early has been allowed to go home.

Lilly Rae was born on 9 December at just 22 weeks and two days gestation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But despite weighing in at just over 1lb (511g) when she was born, about the same as a bag of sugar, Lily Rae proved to be a fighter.

Lilly was born with a beating heart, but struggled to breathe and move.

She was immediately put onto a ventilator, which she stayed on for seven weeks.

During her stay in hospital, Lilly suffered a bleed on the brain, underwent major surgery on a distended intestine and had to be put on a course of antibiotics to treat a series of life-threatening infections.

Then the coronavirus lockdown meant her mother Tayla Menear could only visit her daughter for two hours each day, while father Shane had to stay at home.

Thankfully though, following care from staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Lilly has grown stronger every day.

And last week, on Tuesday morning, Tayla and Shane had a call from Lilly’s neonatal nurse to say she could be discharged home that day.

Lilly can now begin her next chapter of life at home with her mother and father.

Having been born at just 22 weeks and 2 days, she’s the youngest surviving premature baby that the hospital has ever looked after.

Leaving the ward last week, Tayla said: “I cannot believe this day has come. We never dared hope that this could happen.

“I still don’t think I will believe it until Lilly is tucked up in her Moses basket at home with me and Shane.”

Specialist neonatal outreach nurses will continue to monitor her progress with regular visits to see her at home.

Consultant neonatologist Dr Priya Muthukumar said she is “reasonably optimistic” for Lilly because “her brain scans while in the neonatal unit have been reassuring and she has made very encouraging progress so far.”

Taylar said staff at the unit had been “incredible”.

Speaking about her experience she added: “For the first few months of Lilly’s life no-one knew if we would ever reach the point of going home as a family.

“I have since come across other cases and now want people to know if they go into labour at 22 weeks not to feel hopeless. There is always a chance.”

Last year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

Additionally, a recent study has revealed the majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems.

Sadly, it is currently legal in Great Britain to abort unborn babies up to 24 weeks, or up to birth if doctors believe the baby will be born with a disability.

In 2018, the latest year with published data, 845 live births were recorded in England of babies with a gestational age of less than 24 weeks, according to the Office for National Statistics

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“It has been over a decade since abortion time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. Since then the survival rate for premature babies has doubled.

“Our current abortion time limit, at 24 weeks, is way out of line with medical breakthroughs and the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks, making time limits an issue Parliament should urgently revisit.”

“Additionally, independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below.”