This is how Amanda Staplehurst and Lee Burden’s story about their premature twins appeared in the Daily Mail newspaper.
By ALISON SMITH SQUIRE on 22nd July 2010
Together they weighed about the same as a bag of sugar and could fit snugly into each of their father’s palms. Amelia Hope Burden and her brother Arthur are the youngest premature twins to survive in the UK. One was even born before the 24-week legal limit for abortion.
Even small equipment dwarfs Arthur as mother Amanda Staplehurst and father Lee Burdon look on, while, below, tiny fighter Amelia Hope is pictured three days after she was born, weighing a mere 1lb 2oz.
Amelia Hope came into the world ten days before her brother, when their mother was 23 weeks and two days pregnant.
The twins are being hailed as medical marvels, and their birth is expected to bolster the campaign to lower the abortion limit to 20 weeks.
Doctors are under no legal obligation to try to save a baby born younger than 24 weeks, unless they believe it is in the child’s best interest.
And thankfully that was the case when mother Amanda Staplehurst gave birth at the end of last month.
The investment banker, 30, went to hospital with stomach pain and was amazed to be told she was in labour.
Amelia Hope showed no signs of life when she was born, but doctors managed to revive her.
‘Doctors said she had just a 10 per cent chance of survival. And we never thought she’d pull through,’ said Miss Staplehurst.
‘Then, having delivered Amelia Hope, it was totally bizarre that for ten days I remained pregnant with Arthur. The doctors have told us they’ve never come across a case like it.’
Amelia Hope weighed just 1lb 2oz while her brother, Arthur, was 1lb 4oz when he arrived at just over 24 weeks in July.
Describing the moment she realised she was in labour, Miss Staplehurst said: ‘I went to my local hospital as a precaution as I had cramping pains but as it was so early in my pregnancy I just thought I had a stomach bug.
‘However, doctors said I was in full labour. There was nothing anyone could do to stop it and two hours later I delivered Amelia Hope.
‘Seeing Amelia Hope whisked away by medical staff was incredibly traumatic. After all, she was born before the abortion limit and appeared to be dead. But thank goodness, despite this, doctors decided to revive her.
Amanda at the Queen Alexandra Hospital while she was still carrying Arthur, but had given birth to Amelia Hope, who is in the incubator.
Miss Staplehurst, from Bournemouth and her fiancé Lee Burden, 35, a social worker, were transferred to a specialist unit in Portsmouth.
Arthur, who was breech, was born by caesarean section and the twins are now being cared for in side-by-side incubators.
Miss Staplehurst said: ‘Amelia Hope was so small, even Lee’s hand looked big next to her.
She could literally fit comfortably into the palm of his hand when she was born. But in just a fortnight she has already put weight on.
‘The pair of them seem to stretch together. Nurses have said hopefully in the next couple of weeks they can share an incubator for a few hours a day. That way they can cuddle up to one another as they did in the womb.’
Premature babies are more likely to be stillborn, and one in three born before 33 weeks suffers from a disability such as blindness and deafness or develops learning difficulties.
The previous UK record for surviving premature twins was 24 weeks while the world’s most premature baby was born at less than 22 weeks.