A Welsh woman has told the BBC how one of her severely premature twins abruptly went on the mend when his brother was put in an incubator with him.
Hannah Zimunya is sure her son Dylan saved Deiniol’s life just by hugging him.
Identical twins were born in October 2018. When 28-year-old Hannah went into labor at 25 weeks of pregnancy, doctors tried for two days to stop it, but to no avail. The boys were born weighing 900g (Dylan) and 700g (Deiniol). Deiniol was smaller and weaker.
For two months after birth, Deiniol was in intensive care and could not breathe on his own, while Dylan quickly recovered and was discharged from the hospital.
The family, which, in addition to the twins, has three other children, lived 60 km from the hospital and Hannah could not be around the clock in the neonatal unit near Deiniol.
The day came when the doctors advised the parents to say goodbye to Deiniol — they no longer hoped for improvement. Hannah and her husband brought Dylan in and put him in the incubator next to his brother — that he hug him last time.
The embrace lasted only five minutes. But on the same day, little Deiniol’s condition suddenly improved. In a matter of hours, from a 100 percent forced oxygen supply, doctors moved it to 50%.
“When I called the hospital and asked how the baby was, the doctors said he was much better and that for the first time it was possible to cut the artificial oxygen supply by half,” says Hannah.
“It was hard to believe. Dylan had managed to help Deiniol somehow. He just stayed around, and Deiniol felt better. Neither I nor the doctors expected this.”
“He hugged his brother and saved his life,” says the boys ‘ mother. “It was a blessing to see that, and it taught us that they didn’t need to be separated in principle.”
Dylan was placed in the hospital next to his brother for another two months. He did go home in January this year, and Deiniol was finally discharged to his four siblings in April.
He still needs daily oxygen support, but the prognosis is very optimistic.
The twins celebrated their first birthday with a noisy party together with brother TJ, who is 8 years old, six-year-old sister Lily and three-year-old Tandy.
“There was a time when we thought there wouldn’t be a birthday like this,” says Hannah. “A terrible time for us. We are eternally grateful to the doctors.”
In British hospitals, there is a similar practice, when nursing premature twins, they are placed side by side in the same incubator. However, there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of this yet.