Born at just 22 weeks: Tiny Twins reunited with chopper crew and medical staff who saved them
Written by News on 16/08/2019
The youngest ever surviving pre-term twin boys born in Britain have been reunited with the helicopter crew and medical team who saved their lives.
Jenson was born weighing 535g and given 0% chance of surviving the first 48 hours, while Ruben weighed 590g and had between 20% to 30% chance of life.
Mum Jennie Powell, 41, was just 22 weeks pregnant went she went into labour while on holiday in Cornwall in August last year with her husband Rich, 42.
Her pregnancy was being closely monitored as two years earlier, Mr and Mrs Powell’s son, Linnie, died after being born at 23 weeks as a result of complications from a streptococcal B infection.
Staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro decided her condition was so serious she needed to be in a specialist neo-natal unit. However the nearest available beds were in Oxford, some 190 miles away.
Such was the urgency of the situation the coastguard was asked for help and Mrs Powell was taken by helicopter on the one hour 15 minute flight to the John Radcliffe Hospital, accompanied by Captain Jorg Brunner, co-pilot Ivan Hamilton, chief crewman Ian Copley and winchman-paramedic Niall Hanson and midwife Jane Parke.
Jenson and Ruben were born on 17 August 2018.
Jennie Powell said: “We have a holiday in Cornwall every year, and we were just at the end of two weeks away.
“I was nervous, because of the timings, but it also meant I was much more aware of the warning signs. I felt some pain, and just knew that something wasn’t right.
“We went straight to hospital, and it was suddenly all too familiar. The hospital ran tests and confirmed I was having contractions and my blood results indicated an infection.
“Everything that followed, in the days after that, we can only describe as miraculous – every decision made by the people who were looking after us ensured that our boys survived and are here today.”
The first critical decision by the maternity team was to treat Mrs Powell with steroids to provide the unborn babies with support for their chronically underdeveloped lungs and to realise that they needed care that was not available in Cornwall.
“The hospital team didn’t give up calling, and when the John Radcliffe Hospital said they could take us that afternoon we found ourselves being airlifted by the HM Coastguard helicopter from Newquay,” Mrs Powell said.
“That was a lifesaving decision.”
After being delivered by cesarean section, the tiny twin boys still faced a battle to live.
Jenson had weaknesses in his lungs, while Ruben was just eight days old when he had his first lifesaving operation after his intestines began failing when he developed necrotizing enterocolitis.
Mrs Powell said: “We were being prepared for the likelihood of saying goodbye to another child.”
Dad Rich Powell said: “The standard of care we received was outstanding. The boys had it all – infections, more than 20 blood transfusions, sepsis, pneumonia, eye injections and laser surgery, hernia reversal, you name it. The team at John Radcliffe were on top of everything.”
Gradually the boys began to thrive and now a year later they and their parents have had the chance to catch up with the helicopter crew and medical staff who helped save their lives.
Following the meeting Mrs Powell said: “After that day, Jane and the helicopter crew didn’t have any idea about what had happened to us – that the boys had survived. Being able to meet them again on the anniversary is so, so wonderful.”