A very premature baby who doctors thought was going to die made a dramatic improvement after his twin brother was put into his incubator.
Hannah Zimunya believes her son Dylan saved brother Deiniol’s life simply by giving him a cuddle after the twins were reunited in hospital.
The boys, from Wrexham, had been born 15 weeks early and were rushed 60 miles (96km) to a neonatal unit in Bolton.
Dylan improved and was transferred to Wrexham, but Deiniol deteriorated.
Hannah, 28, had gone into premature labour in October 2018 when she was 25 weeks pregnant, and despite best efforts by doctors at Wrexham Maelor Hospital to delay birth, the twins were delivered two days later.
Dylan weighed 2lbs (0.9kg) while Deiniol was even tinier at just 1lb 9oz (0.7kg).
They were transferred to the Royal Bolton Hospital, the nearest unit catering for extremely premature babies with two incubators available, and placed on ventilators to breathe for them.
Hannah, who has three other children with her husband Xavi, said: “We were expecting the boys to be born early with them being twins, but I don’t think anyone expects or can prepare themselves to go through that.
“The whole experience was terrifying.”
Dylan’s condition improved and he was moved back to Wrexham Maelor, but Deiniol remained in Bolton still needing 100% oxygen to survive, and showing no sign of improvement.
When the twins were 14 weeks old, medical staff were worried Deiniol’s condition was fatally deteriorating and they brought Dylan back to the hospital to say goodbye.
The twins spent just five minutes together in the incubator having a cuddle, but hours later Deiniol’s condition had stabilised, and his oxygen support was reduced to 50%.
Hannah said: “It wasn’t until I phoned later that night to ask how Deiniol was doing that they told me his oxygen support had been halved.
“It was incredible. Somehow Dylan, by just being there, managed to help Deiniol – he made him better.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all and neither were the nurses and doctors.
‘Saved his life with a cuddle’
“The next day his oxygen [support] levels had gone back up to 100% and he was showing signs of deterioration again, so the nurses suggested bringing Dylan back for another cuddle.
“Within two days Deiniol was taken off his ventilator completely. It really was a miracle.
“He saved his life with a cuddle. It was brilliant to watch and it showed all of us that they should never have been separated.”
Dylan remained in Bolton with Deiniol for a further two months before being discharged in January this year. Deiniol followed his brother home in April.
He still needs smaller amounts of round-the-clock oxygen until his lungs become strong enough to breathe independently.
The boys celebrated their first birthday with a big party with their brother TJ, eight, sisters Lily, six, and Thandi, three.
“I can’t explain how happy I am both boys have celebrated their first birthdays, because there was a time where we didn’t know if both of them would get the chance to,” said Hannah.
“It was the scariest time we have been through.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to all the staff at both The Wrexham Maelor and Royal Bolton hospitals.”
The practice of placing twins in incubators together in an attempt to improve their condition is carried out at UK hospitals but evidence as to whether there are proven benefits is inconclusive.