The world's most premature twins, born in Iowa, defy the odds and turn 1
On 24 November 2018, twin girls Keeley and Kambry Ewoldt were born at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa, at a gestational age of 22 weeks 1 day, or 155 days. Their original due date was 29 March 2019. The girls were 125 days premature, the world's most premature twins according to the Guinness World Records.
At birth, Keeley and Kambry weighed just 869 grams between them. Their bodies were gelatinous and fragile. Their finger and toenails could barely be seen without a magnifying glass.
The twins' mother, Jade Ewoldt, has said the girls "are doing great." They are still on oxygen. Jade said, "It’s pretty common for children born within 22-24 weeks stay on oxygen for up to two years. They ween the oxygen down as the baby gets older and stronger and capable of breathing on their own air a lot more."
Jade continued: "They are really happy babies, they have a 4-year-old sister (Kollins) and 6-year-old brother (Koy) who are teaching them all the right and wrong things. It stays pretty busy around here." She said, "Their smile just lights up the room. You can tell a baby who knows that they are loved and Keeley and Kambry know that without a doubt that they are loved immensely."
Jade explained the importance of raising awareness of premature births, "I know just sharing the girl’s story has already helped other people."
Dr. Jonathan M. Klein, Medical Director of NICU, described the girls reaching their first brithday as "miraculous." He said, "To see them look like regular babies many months later is pretty amazing. So, every time I see them in clinic, I always tend to be surprised every time to see how wonderful they are doing."
One of the nurses, Kristin Hagberg, who has treated the twins since the very beginning echoes Jade and Dr. Klein’s passion for creating awareness, "As these delicate babies fight for their lives, so do we by working diligently and passionately right beside them every single step of the way. Through all of the ups and downs. I want families to know there is an abundance of support and you are not alone."
Kristin went on to say, "All of these babies are our future and who knows what kind of mark (or record) they will leave on the world, all because of improving viability, raising awareness, and doing everything in our power to provide the best outcomes for our patients."
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City has become widely recognised on a national level for their success in treating premature births. Nearly 60% of children born at Iowa within the same time frame as the twins survive compared to a national average survival rate of just 14%.
Jade praised the authenticity and compassion of the medical team. They are the epitome of what healthcare professionals should be like - treating every patient, at every stage of development, with the best possible support, holistic care and love. Jade said, "Dr. Klein teaches the world on saving 22-week old babies and we are just really lucky that they (the hospital) are basically a neighbour to us and that we were able to go there and be cared to by them."
Jade reflects back on her strong, yet temporary, feelings of fear after the incorrect medical predictions for the survival chances of her baby daughters, "And there was so much fear going on in my mind after my water broke and even just the first few days of their life … it’s tough … reflecting back on what they looked like and being told that they could even be still born and die."
She also said, "It’s really just a work of God that they are even here because there is so much that they’ve defied to be here. They are 100% the toughest people I know. Many adults couldn’t do what they have done. There’s just so many emotions."
November is the birthday month of Keeley and Kambry Ewolt. November is also Prematurity Awareness Month - something Jade Ewoldt and all of the twins' medical team are clearly very passionate about. Jade beautifully put it: “The world is so uneducated on the survival of babies being born this early and how they can go on to be intelligent and capable of so much. I’m really excited to share this to help others save their babies.”
Jade concluded, "They have fought and we have fought alongside them and they are here and we get to celebrate even more and kiss and love on them as much as we can.”