Delacombe twins Alexa and Emmie might be tiny, but their survival is due to their massive fighting spirit.
The twins were born 13 weeks prematurely on May 12, the day before Mothers Day, weighing just 716g and 814g after suffering a rare complications in the womb.
The identical girls suffered twin anemia polycythemia sequence a form of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in which one baby receives too much blood and one too little from their shared placenta. It meant that Emmie was red when born, a result of receiving too much blood, and Alexa was anaemic and white.
The tiny babies were born at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital just three weeks after mum Louise Heaysman was diagnosed with the rare condition and after doctors at three major hospitals reviewed her case to determine the best treatment.
“We were told not to expect them to cry or make any noise and as soon as they were stabilised they would go to the neonatal intensive care unit. They both made some noise, just really little noises, and they were able to stabilise them enough to wheel them in to me for a few minutes before they went to the NICU,” Ms Heaysman said.
“They did everything we didn’t expect.
“They were so little that I was afraid to touch them.”
It was a week before Ms Heaysman and partner Chris Campbell were able to cuddle their newborn girls and, when arriving for their second cuddle when the girls were eight days old, their world again came crashing down when Emmie developed a perforated bowel and had to be transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery.
And for the next 101 days the couple and daughter Trinity, 7, split their time between two hospitals as Emmie remained at RCH and Alexa stayed at the Royal Women’s.
In addition to Emmie’s bowel surgery, during their time in hospital both girls were intubated, on CPAP, oxygen, had infections, blood transfusions, chronic lung disease, jaundice and had surgery for the eye condition retinopathy of prematurity, common in premature babies.
In August, after Alexa spent 107 days in hospital and Emmie, 109 days, the Campbell family were finally all under the one roof in their Delacombe home – a little over two weeks after their initial due date of August 11.
“It’s been tiring,” Ms Heaysman said of having her whole family at home.
“At hospital I was anxious the day we were leaving, thinking about looking after two babies and not having someone to ask questions about, having to remember medication and this and that and trying to feed two at the same time,” she said.
But the family have settled in to a routine that at this stage is broken only for the many medical appointments in Melbourne and Ballarat that the twins need. The girls have been lucky to escape many of the complications that babies born so early can suffer, but Alexa could need surgery when she is bigger to close a duct in her heart.
This week the girls weighed in at a healthy 3.41kg for Emmie and 3.54kg for Alexa.
Family members have set up a gofundme page for the family to help cover the cost of transport and medical appointments for the girls.
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