Trans­form twins’ lives

PAR­ENTS’PLEA TO HELP THEIR TWIN SONS PLAY TO­GETHER AF­TER SYN­DROME SHOCK Rooftop stand-off

Sunday Sun - - News - By KATHRYN RID­DELL Re­porter kathryn.rid­dell@ncj­me­dia.com

THEY are iden­ti­cal twins but Al­fie and Rory Highton are very dif­fer­ent tod­dlers.

Due to a com­pli­ca­tion while in the womb, Al­fie was de­prived of oxy­gen for 24 hours and as a re­sult has spas­tic quad­ri­plegic cere­bral palsy and is pro­foundly deaf.

The twins were born by emer­gency cae­sarean section at 33 weeks af­ter it was dis­cov­ered they had de­vel­oped acute twinto-twin trans­fu­sion syn­drome (TTTS).

TTTS hap­pens when there is an un­even blood flow from the pla­centa to each twin. It re­sulted in Al­fie be­ing oxy­gen de­prived.

Mum and dad Rebecca Bar­rett and Zak Highton were told there was a chance nei­ther twin would sur­vive as they were rushed into the­atre.

Rebecca, 23, said: “Rory was the donor twin. Al­fie got less than 1% of blood.

“We were out of the risk zone for twin-to-twin trans­fu­sion, as the risk zone ends at 24 weeks.

“Af­ter that it’s very un­usual and ex­tremely rare.

“It’s even more rare for both of them to sur­vive.

“We didn’t know whether ei­ther of them would. It was aw­ful.”

Af­ter spend­ing time at Sun­der­land’s neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit, the boys were al­lowed home to Walk­er­gate in New­cas­tle – but Al­fie was kept on oxy­gen for an­other eight months.

At just three months old, doc­tors re­alised Al­fie was deaf and he was then di­ag­nosed with cere­bral palsy at nine months old.

Both con­di­tions hap­pened as a re­sult of the oxy­gen de­pri­va­tion he suf­fered be­fore be­ing born.

Now aged 23 months, Al­fie has re­cently had cochlear im­plants fit­ted and the fam­ily is learn­ing sign lan­guage so they can com­mu­ni­cate with him.

But mum Rebecca says Al­fie strug­gles to play with his older brother.

“He ab­so­lutely loves be­ing able to hear but be­cause of the cere­bral palsy he still can’t talk.

“Rory is walk­ing and talk­ing. Al­fie can only roll, he can’t sit and def­i­nitely can’t stand.

“Rory is get­ting very in­de­pen­dent but Al­fie is de­pen­dent on us.”

To help the broth­ers play to­gether, Rebecca and Zak, 25, are fundrais­ing for spe­cial­ist equip­ment which would trans­form Al­fie’s life.

The fam­ily are hop­ing to raise £10,000 which would pay for an adapt­able Squig­gle chair and for a lift to be fit­ted at the boys’ nurs­ery in Heaton.

Par­ale­gal Rebecca said: “We would like to have a proper seat for him.

“A Squig­gle chair can be adapted to floor level or ta­ble level and it fully meets his needs.

“He could sit on it a long pe­riod of time and it’s on wheels so he could move it about.

“We have a stand­ing frame at home which is 30 years old and just about does the job.

“Be­cause it’s so heavy we can’t take it into nurs­ery so he can’t stand at nurs­ery.”

Money raised would also pay for ther­apy to help teach Al­fie how to con­trol his mus­cles and move in­de­pen­dently.

De­spite the bar­ri­ers be­tween them, Al­fie and Rory still share a spe­cial bond.

Rebecca added: “Al­fie gets a lot of hap­pi­ness be­ing with his brother and quite of­ten they just hold hands.

“When Al­fie hears Rory, he tries to copy what­ever Rory is do­ing.”

• To do­nate, visit Al­fie’s Just4Chil­dren fundrais­ing page at just4chil­dren.org/chil­dren­helped2018/amaz­ing-al­fie/ A MAN has been ar­rested fol­low­ing a rooftop stand­off with po­lice in Northum­ber­land.

Po­lice were called to Queen Street in Am­ble on Fri­day morn­ing.

Of­fi­cers car­ried out ne­go­ti­a­tions with the man, who was on the roof of a prop­erty, for sev­eral hours.

He was even­tu­ally brought down to safety by po­lice.

A 32-year-old man has been ar­rested.

A Northum­bria Po­lice spokesman said: “At around 10.20am po­lice re­ceived a re­port that a man had climbed on to the roof of a prop­erty on Queen Street, Am­ble.

“Of­fi­cers at­tended and the 32-year-old man has since been ar­rested.”

SI­MON GREENER

Rebecca Bar­rett and Zak Highton with twins Rory and Al­fie

Po­lice on Queen Street in Am­ble

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