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Mutual “Hug of Life” helps twins born 13 weeks premature survive

by | Nov 16, 2017

Special bond” still working 2 ½ years later

By Dave Andrusko

Ava and Austin Jayson were not breathing when they were born at 27 weeks and had to be placed in incubators after being resuscitated.

We have nurses in our family and the stories my sisters have told us about critically ill children and the resourcefulness and staying power of families are probably the most moving first-person accounts I’ve ever heard.

So I was not really surprised when I read that when two very premature twins–Ava and Austin Jayson– were struggling to breathe in their separate incubators weeks after their births at 27 weeks, their mother Krystina suggested they be put in the same incubator.

The Daily Mail’s Lucy Laing calls what followed the “hug of life.” As soon as they were put together, they “immediately placed their arms around each other. From that moment, their oxygen levels started to shoot up and their conditions improved dramatically,” Laing writes.

‘It really was a miracle,” Mrs. Lake-Jayson, 29, said. “They had been apart since they were born prematurely. It was as if they knew they were together again and they were pulling each other through.’

‘It was wonderful to see,” Mrs. Lake-Jayson told the Daily Mail. “They just couldn’t stop staring at each other. They really improved from that moment on.”

So why the sudden drastic improvement? The changes could be a twist on how prolonged skin-to-skin contact with a parent can improve a premature baby’s heart rate and breathing. It may be, Laing writes, that “The comfort of physical closeness can work wonders not yet understood by experts.”

Laing says there is no scientific explanation, “although many parents of twins believe in what has become known as the ‘rescuing hug’.”

The origin of “rescuing hugs dates back to 1995, when twin girls Brielle and Kyrie Jackson were born 12 weeks prematurely in Massachusetts, in the US,” according to Laing.

Kyrie thrived but Brielle had breathing and heart-rate problems and went into a critical condition.

Medical staff feared she would die until a nurse suggested putting the siblings into the same incubator. Brielle snuggled up to her sister and within minutes her blood-oxygen readings had improved. Both were eventually discharged healthy.

Of course in May 2015 when Ava born at just 2lb, 1oz and Austin just 3oz heavier, it was to be expected that there might be complications but also that gradual improvements would occur. But nothing of significance took place for eight weeks until the twins were put together.

They finally went home in September 2015 where Ava later suffered a problem with her heart that required 11 blood transfusions. “Fortunately, she pulled through,” Laing reported. And the twins’ continue to improve.

But once again, the special bond between the twins has helped her make considerable strides back to health.

‘Being with Austin helped Ava enormously,’ said Mrs. Lake-Jayson.

Categories: Premature babies