MIRACLE twins Alice and Emily Hall were all smiles as they celebrated their first day at nursery a few weeks ago.
And it proved an emotional day for mum Margaret Lewis, too – not only watching her girls grow up but also marking a milestone that it was once thought they might never meet.
The pair, now three, had to be delivered six weeks early at just an hour’s notice after it was discovered they were suffering from Twin-To-Twin Transfusion.
The rare condition affects about 15% of identical twins when they share a placenta and blood supply. It means one twin gets too much blood, which can put a strain on the heart and lead to heart failure, while the other gets too little, which can affect its growth and survival.
Staff at Wishaw General Hospital spotted the condition during a routine scan and rushed Margaret into theatre.
They had to act quickly. Getting the babies out just minutes later could result in one of them not making it. Any longer and there was a chance neither baby would survive.
“It was all a bit of a shock,” Margaret, 44, from Airdrie, said. “One minute I was having a routine scan with at least a month to go before the babies were due to arrive, and less than an hour later, I was in theatre delivering them.”
Emily suffered from a lack of oxygen to her brain and was severely anaemic. She needed an urgent blood transfusion at birth.
Alice had polycythemia (too many red blood cells) and was at risk of a stroke or heart attack. She needed a partial exchange transfusion.
Both girls had difficulty with breathing, were hypoglycaemic and also required phototherapy to treat jaundice.
“It was a very frightening time, but the doctors and nurses were amazing,” admin worker Margaret recalled. “They remained exceptionally calm throughout – and saved the girls’ lives. To say we feel lucky is an understatement.”
The twins spent several weeks in intensive care and a total of 31 days in the neonatal unit.
The day they came home for the first time was a huge relief for Margaret and partner Dougie Hall, 39 – and a delight for big brother Jack, now 14, who was waiting patiently to have his baby sisters by his side.
The next year was a tough time, with the girls facing almost weekly hospital appointments to check on their progress. But in 2014, after countless tests and scans, both girls were given the all-clear and discharged by their consultants.
“We feel so lucky that Alice and Emily both survived the condition and have no lasting health complications,” Margaret said.
“That doesn’t happen in a lot of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion, in fact in the majority of cases.”
Alice and Emily will run the 100m Toddler Dash and One Mile Race in the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run on October 1. So far, they’ve collected £500 for the neonatal unit at Wishaw General.
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