Northern Territory ‘miracle’ twin sisters defy odds to start school

Northern Territory ‘miracle’ twin sisters defy odds to start school

Top End twins whose tiny lives were saved by the teamwork of four Australian hospitals are now ready for their first day at school.
 
Audrey and Constance were born 14 weeks premature and spent three months receiving around-the-clock care, firstly at the Royal Darwin Hospital, and then at the Neonatal Critical Care Unit at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane, as part of their epic fight for survival.
 
Parents Sarah and Chris said they were in awe of their ‘miracle baby girls’, now five, who can’t wait to meet their new classmates at Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School in Palmerston on Wednesday (31 January).
 
“I can’t believe this day is actually here, there was such a long period of praying the girls would make it,” Sarah said.
 
“It will be lovely to see the girls with peers of a similar age and how they are embraced.”
 
Sarah said her daughters arrived just 26 weeks into her pregnancy on 28 November 2018, due to preterm labour caused by acute Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). 
 
TTTS is a rare pregnancy condition affecting identical twins and other multiple births. It occurs when siblings share the same placenta and blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients essential for development in the womb.
 
Constance arrived via a vaginal birth at Darwin Private Hospital and weighed just 870 grams.
 
Audrey was born via a caesarean section weighing 980 grams and suffered a major brain bleed two days later. 
 
Sarah said: “In the beginning, not long after Audrey was born, the outcomes we were told to expect by doctors were really poor”.
 
“We were told Audrey would be in a vegetative state, wouldn’t speak or feed herself,” she said.
 
“Audrey has cerebral palsy but she has mobility – and her favourite things to do are gymnastics and dancing.”
 
The inseparable siblings, who have an elder sister Claudia (7), were transferred to Royal Darwin
Hospital after their birth and then airlifted to Mater Mothers’ Hospital in South Brisbane.
 
Sarah said her twins spent one month at Royal Darwin Hospital and two further months in the Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit, giving Audrey time to get bigger and stronger for brain surgery at the nearby Queensland Children’s Hospital. 
 
Sarah said Audrey has undergone seven brain surgeries since birth and will never forget those who gave her twin daughter’s a chance at survival. She is grateful for the months of care they received from the multidisciplinary team at Royal Darwin Hospital and Mater Mothers’ Hospital.
 
“For Audrey, the outcome would not have been so great if we didn’t have the care we did at Mater,” Sarah said.
 
“We were so well cared for, so supported and felt so empowered about the decisions we were making. 
 
“Audrey is a vibrant little individual. Constance was discharged with chronic lung disease which resolved by the time she was six months old – and they are both doing well.”
 
Each year nearly 2,000 very sick and premature babies receive round-the-clock specialist care from the multidisciplinary team in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit.

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