Twins born premature reunited with team that saved them 17 years later
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Pretoria - In 2004, babies born four months premature were at the edge of what was considered feasible for survival. Today, the teenage twin brothers are living proof of what can be achieved with the love of their devoted parents and the dedication of a team of specialists and neonatal intensive care nursing professionals.
“When my babies were delivered by emergency Caesarean section on December 5, 2004, I was in shock. Being a first-time mom is usually stressful, but our twin boys were so tiny and underdeveloped that my husband Aki and I were warned that they were extremely vulnerable. It was a surreal, frightening time,” said Yiota Hadjipetros, mother of twins Alexandros and Stefanos.
The parents were in survival mode for months, praying and spending every moment they could with their boys in the neonatal intensive care unit at Netcare Park Lane Hospital in Johannesburg.
“To this day, we are so grateful for the ‘family’ of caring medical specialists and nurses who took care of our babies and, by the grace of God, saved their lives.”
The twins, now 17, recently reunited with Dr Neli Stoykova, their paediatrician at birth, and the team who cared for them in the uncertain months before they were finally discharged nearly four months after they came into the world.
“Although we have kept in touch, it felt like time for us to get together to celebrate with the amazing team who became like family to us in that time. Dr Stoykova is phenomenal, and we thank God for putting her and this special team of nurses there to care for our twins,” Hadjipetros said.
The team were overjoyed to see how Alexandros and Stefanos developed into young men. At birth, both twins had bleeding on the brain.
“We’ve had a long journey with the twins’ health and supportive therapies. Both Stefanos and Alexandros have worked hard, and Stefanos is now in Grade 10 in a mainstream school.”
“Alexandros continually exceeds expectations, as one of the specialists told us he would likely be quadriplegic for life, but with help he learnt to walk within 18 months.”
His mother said he has some learning barriers but they were working daily to help make the best of his abilities.
Because the twins were so premature there was great concern for their survival, especially for Alexandros, and it was a spiritual journey for everyone involved, Stoykova said.
The smaller twin, Alexandros, who weighed only 700g at that stage, had to have surgery at the time and developed life-threatening renal failure.
Stefanos’s message today: “Push through difficult times, believe in yourself.” To which Alexandros adds: “Be who you are and don’t give up.”