‘MIRACLE’ TWINS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
PARENTS PAY TNREIBWUSTE TO HOSPITAL STAFF WHO SAVED THEIR TWINS
‘MIRACLE twins’ born with a rare birth defect will be home for Christmas after undergoing lifesaving surgery at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Tiny twins April and Evie were born almost four months early in February, both with a defect that left them unable to swallow.
The condition, known as Oesophageal Atresia (OA) with TracheoOesophageal Fistula (TOF), affects around 1 in 4,000 newborns.
Not only is it rare for twins to both be affected by this non-genetic defect, but April and Evie were the most premature babies to have been treated for the condition at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital.
Despite their difficult start in life, April and Evie recovered and will be spending their first Christmas at home with their family.
The girls were born at Burnley General Hospital after mum Lindsay Rhodes went into labour without realising at 26 weeks.
They were transferred to the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at St Mary’s to receive specialist treatment. The defect meant the twins wouldn’t be able to swallow because the oesophagus, the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach, wasn’t connected.
If untreated, it can cause babies to choke or catch pneumonia.
Within hours of being born, they underwent the life-saving emergency surgery.
Surgeons David Wilkinson and Nick Lansdale operated on one tiny baby each, fitting gastrostomies so they could be fed via a tube directly into their stomachs.
April and Evie were given round the clock care on the intensive care unit before undergoing more major corrective surgery to enable them to feed normally.
Mr Lansdale, consultant neonatal surgeon at RMCH, said: “Oesophageal Atresia affecting both twins is extremely rare. April and Evie’s surgery was made challenging by their tiny size at birth, with each twin’s oesophagus being approximately the diameter of a piece of spaghetti.”
While April recovered quickly from surgery, Evie’s battle was far from over. After more than six hours in theatre, she became critically ill and almost died. The fragile youngster spent ten weeks on a ventilator and was resuscitated many times by expert staff on NICU.
Thanks to intensive nursing care, little Evie pulled through and will spend her first Christmas with her twin sister with parents Lindsay Rhodes and Stephen Hardiker at home. Lindsay said: “The work that is carried out between the teams across both hospitals in amazing, and the nurses and surgical teams are incredible.
“I cannot thank them enough for their ongoing care and compassion throughout one of the most difficult times for us.
“They never gave up hope and the girls are now our little miracles.
“The whole team on NICU were just amazing and never gave up hope for Evie, which is what we needed.
“We nearly lost her on a few occasions and she was resuscitated more times than we like to remember but she pulled through and we are so proud of them both.”
Lindsay and Stephen, from Burnley, lived on the hospital site at Ronald McDonald House while the twins were cared for at the hospital.
Lindsay added: “To all of the nurses, doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists that have helped us through this year, I cannot thank you enough for your support.
“April and Evie are doing great and we are so pleased to have them both in good health and home for their first Christmas after a challenging year for us all.”
The happy family with hospital staff
April and Evie with parents Lindsay and Stephen