We couldn’t be more proud of our amazing little miracles. They surprise us every day
Claire Palmer knows better than most the crucial work done by the children’s hospitals supported by Oor Wullie’s chosen charities.
The proud mum calls her sons “little miracles” not only because she was once told that she might never have children – but because the brave boys have faced a fight for survival since they were born.
“Leo and Sam are amazing,” Claire said.“They’re surpassing all expectations. “We couldn’t be more proud of them.” Having suffered with polycystic ovaries, Claire, 39, was told at 21 that she would be unlikely to conceive naturally. Desperate to have children, she and husband Rick turned to IVF.
The first embryo led to the birth of beautiful daughter Jess, now four, the second resulted in miscarriage and the third saw Claire fall pregnant with the twins.
But the latter pregnancy was difficult. At 18 weeks, Claire was found to have twin-to-twin transfusion, a condition where one baby takes more blood from the placenta.
And at 25 weeks she went into premature labour. Thankfully both babies, Leo and Sam, now two, arrived safely.
At just a day old, Leo suffered a brain haemorrhage. He also had hydrocephalus, faced five brain surgeries in his first 18 months, and contracted bacterial meningitis.
Sam was diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis at two weeks old, and had to have most of his small intestine removed.
“As soon as one child started to stabilise, the other got very sick,” Claire said. “Rick and I were virtually living at the hospital.”
The family received unconditional support from Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) – one of the three children’s hospital charities backed by Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail – and wanted to give something back.
In May last year, Leo needed more brain surgery to correct a condition involving cysts in his ventricles. There were only eight surgeons in the UK able to perform the operation – and the equipment needed to be hired into Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Realising Leo would need repeat surgery, the Palmers raised £15,000 for ECHC, which helped the hospital purchase one of the machines.
Sam and Leo are getting stronger every day – and looking forward to celebrating their third birthdays next month.
“They were so sick for such a long time it’s hard to believe they’ve made it this far,” Claire said. “But they surprise us every day.”
Claire Palmer with Leo, Jess and Sam