Kambry and Keeley Ewoldt, a pair of twins, has broken the record for the most premature babies ever born at an Iowa hospital to survive – despite arriving over four months early.
The twins were born in late November after 22 weeks of gestation, compared to the average human gestation period is 40 weeks or around nine months.
‘They would be clearly among the top four or five earliest babies ever delivered here.
‘We had one at 22 (weeks) and zero (days) and another at 22 and one, but neither were twins,’ said Dr. Jonathan Klein, a neonatologist and medical director of the NICU at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
‘For 22-week babies to survive, it’s incredibly rare. Nationally, survival is around 10 percent,’ he continued.
While in the womb, the babies were diagnosed with twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), which is an unusual formation of blood vessels that connect identical twins sharing a placenta, the disorder can be fatal for both twins because it creates an uneven blood flow between the babies.
(TTTS) is also very rare,’ said Klein. ‘A lot of patients pass away before they are even born.’
The twins underwent surgery in utero at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to disconnect the blood vessels – but even when treated the disorder often causes premature birth.
The twins’ mother, Jade Ewoldt, 28, of Dysart, Iowa said that she was shocked when she realized her water broke at home on November 23.
‘I was so mad and upset and scared,’ said Ewoldt. ‘I was just praying the girls wouldn’t be born at home.’
Jade was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, which was an excruciatingly long one-hour and fifteen-minute ride.
Along the way, the ambulance crew told Jade that they were not equipped to save the babies if they were born in the vehicle. ‘I must’ve asked them a thousand times if we were there yet,’ Jade said.
Fortunately, the twins waited long enough for their mother arrived at the hospital. When they were delivered, they were incredibly small and each was the size of a dollar bill. ‘I’d never heard of babies being born this early,’ said Wesley Ewoldt, the twins’ father.
‘We didn’t have a lot of positive thoughts. They told us from the get-go this is going to be a roller-coaster ride.’
According to Klein, numerous complications are associated with babies being born that early. Their skin was so fragile that it could tear at the softest touch and they did not have formed eyelids yet.
Their hearts were the size of thumbnails. Respirators were used to give the girls miniature puffs of air to keep them breathing.
‘It’s overwhelming when you think about these things. So much goes into making sure these two little girls stay alive,’ Jade said.
The delivery was a success, but now the twins need to stay at the neonatal intensive care unit until their original due date, which is March 29.
Jade and Wesley spend most days with the twins at the hospital. Often times they’ll bring their daughter Kollins, 3, and their five-year-old son Koy. ‘They’ve beaten all the odds against them so far,’ said Jade. ‘You just think of what they can be.’
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