By Hollie Bone
Two miracle twins born 15 weeks premature have marked their first birthday – after the stronger boy saved his brother’s life with a CUDDLE.
Dylan and Deiniol Zimunya were born at just 25 weeks’ gestation last year weighing 950g and 890g after mum Hannah, 28, went into premature labour.
But the tiny tots were so small their lungs hadn’t fully developed and were rushed straight from their hometown of Wrexham, North Wales, to the specialist neonatal unit at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Mum-of-five Hannah and husband Xavi, 40, were dealt another blow when only Dylan’s condition started to improve, allowing him to be transferred back home while Deiniol was left 60 miles away, dangerously reliant on 100 per cent oxygen support ventilator to breathe.
But when medics arranged for the then-14-week-old twins to be reunited in the same incubator for the first time since they were born, Deiniol’s condition miraculously improved just TWO hours after a hug from his brother and doctors were able to take him off the oxygen machine just 48 hours later.
After a seven month stay in hospital, the twins were finally fit and healthy enough to go home and just last month marked the first birthday their parents thought they might never see with older siblings, Tinashe, eight, Lily, six, and Thantiwe, three.
Stay-at-home mum Hannah said: “You don’t expect both of your babies to be taken away from you almost as soon as you’ve given birth to them, even worse that they were transferred to a completely different hospital nearly 60 miles away.
“When we took Dylan back to Bolton they were put together in the same incubator for a cuddle for a few minutes.
“It wasn’t until I phoned later that night to ask how Deiniol was doing that they told me his oxygen support had been halved.
“It was incredible, somehow Dylan, by just being there, managed to help Deiniol – he made him better.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all and neither were the nurses and doctors.
“The next day his oxygen levels had gone back up to 100 per cent and he was showing signs of deterioration again, so the nurses suggested bringing Dylan back for another cuddle.
“Within two days Deiniol was taken off his ventilator completely, it really was a miracle.
“He saved his life with a cuddle, it was brilliant to watch and it showed all of us that they should never have been separated.
“That bond between twins really does exist.
“Even though they hadn’t been together for 14 weeks since the day they were born, as soon as they were together that bond saved Deiniol’s life.”
Hannah fell pregnant naturally last April, and throughout the six months enjoyed a stress-free pregnancy.
But three months before reaching full term, Hannah began experiencing painful and frequent contractions and knew she was going into labour.
By the time she was examined at Maelor Hospital in Wrexham, the young mum was five centimetres dilated and doctors started work on delaying the birth, desperate to hold off for one more week to increase the boys’ chances of survival.
Hannah spent X hours in labour, giving birth naturally as it was the safest way to deliver the twins, who doctors warned would need to be put on the highest dose of oxygen immediately.
The mum – who calls the boys her ‘little miracles’ – was told the Royal Bolton Hospital was the nearest neonatal unit catering for extremely premature babies with two incubators available.
Within 12 hours both boys had been transferred there and put onto life-saving ventilators which would breathe for them while they built up enough strength to go home.
As soon as they were born, the brothers were placed inside plastic body bags to re-create the warmth and humidity of the womb which would protect their fragile skin, too thin to insulate their bodies.
Former care home worker Hannah said: “We were expecting the boys to be born early with them being twins, but I don’t think anyone expects or can prepare themselves to go through that. The whole experience was terrifying.
“The doctors and nurses have to prepare you for the worst, so they’re telling you what could happen and as a mother that’s the hardest thing to hear – that you could lose your baby.”
But as Dylan went from strength to strength, allowing him to be transferred back to Maelor Hospital, brother Deiniol remained in Bolton on 100 per cent oxygen showing no signs of improvement.
With Hannah and teacher Xavi completing the 120-mile round trip every day by car, doctors worried his condition was fatally deteriorating and they organised for the Dylan to visit his brother to say goodbye.
But just hours after the twins spent five minutes cuddled up together Deiniol’s condition stabilised, allowing medics to drop his oxygen support level to 50 per cent.
So doctors arranged for a second time for Dylan to came back for another cuddle later that week, and his brother was able to be taken off the ventilator completely.
After two months under the same roof in Bolton, Dylan was transferred back to Wrexham at the beginning of December and was taken out on day release to visit Deiniol twice before he was discharged this January.
Now both boys are back home and enjoying family life with their older brothers and sisters, who helped to mark their incredible milestone first birthday at a big party last month.
Today Deiniol is still receiving 24/7 oxygen at home, but his dose has come down to 0.3 litres to help his lungs until they are strong enough to breathe independently.
Hannah said: “Just getting Deiniol home in the first place was amazing, because he was in hospital for seven months whereas we brought Dylan home after four.
“I can’t explain how happy I am both boys have celebrated their first birthdays, because there was a time where we didn’t know if both of them would get the chance to.
“It was the scariest time we have been through.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to all the staff at both The Wrexham Maelor and Royal Bolton hospitals.
“Without the support of the nurses I wouldn’t have got through everything.
“They really do become an extended part of the family.”
Cath Bainbridge, Matron of Royal Bolton Hospital’s Neonatal Unit said: “Every day we care for very premature and sometimes very poorly babies, and their families, and we try to care for each of them as if they were our own.
“If there is something we can do for a family that can make their experience more hopeful, we try to do all in our power to make it happen. In the case of these two beautiful little boys it was beyond doubt the right thing to do.
“All the team wish them a very happy first birthday, and many more to come.”