Premature twin born 3 times lighter than his brother left fighting for life
"I have no doubt that cuddles with his twin has helped him keep fighting."
A tiny premature baby was born in the UK 2lb 7oz lighter than his twin brother, leading to him fighting for his life in hospital.
Chester and Otis Graves were born on July 15 at just 28 weeks, but due to a health condition, Chester weighed just 1lb compared to his brother's 3lb 7oz.
Though Otis was discharged from hospital six weeks after their birth, Chester still remains in the neonatal unit at Southend hospital, now weighing 3lb 6oz.
Parents Kelly and Billy Graves, from Essex, believe his survival is down to him receiving lots of cuddles from his twin brother, who they hope he'll soon join at home within the next two months.
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The twin's health problems first became apparent during a scan at 16 weeks. Doctors noted that the brothers differed in size by 25% due to a condition called Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
The condition inhibited Chester's growth as it stopped him from receiving adequate nutrients from the placenta.
After the scan, Kelly was admitted to a London hospital for surgery.
“I had to have endoscopic laser surgery whereby they enter the womb through the side of your body in order to reach the placenta and kill off the blood vessels connecting the two babies," she said.
“The surgery was performed to separate the babies in the womb so that if Chester hadn’t survived it would have protected Otis from dying or being left with lasting brain damage.”
Following the surgery, doctors were concerned that Chester was still only growing around 25g a week in comparison to Otis's weekly growth of around 100g.
“I was told at every scan that he may not survive which was heartbreaking," Kelly added.
At 28 weeks, her waters broke and she was forced to prematurely deliver the babies via C-Section.
“At this point Chester was 485 grams which was close to being deemed viable, but we were told his heart rate kept dipping and that the chances of survival from the caesarean would be low," she continued.
"We just had to hope that he would keep fighting."
Otis was born first and immediately ventilated, but Chester had to be stabilised before ventilation.
Doctors also found a knot in his umbilical cord that had added to his slow growth.
Ever since, the smaller twin has faced multiple health issues including a hole in his heart, an eye problem that required surgery, and Necrotising Enterocolitis, a serious inflammation of bowel tissue.
Though Chester remains in hospital on high flow oxygen, he has steadily improved, now weighing 3lb 6oz. He'll need to gain a further 255 grams before he can be discharged.
“It is very bittersweet because we have Otis at home now and everyone says how nice it must be, but it’s also horrible because we can’t feel complete until both babies are back together," Kelly said.
On September 22, the twins were reunited for the first time since birth.
"It was everything I was waiting for, and although Otis was asleep, Chester was obsessed with him and couldn’t take his eyes away from his brother," Kelly continued. "I have no doubt that cuddles with his twin has helped him keep fighting.
"Chester will most likely be on low flow oxygen when he’s home, but we are hoping in around a month or two he can finally meet the rest of the family."