18.06.2024

The mum of the UK’s most premature twins says they are going ‘strength to strength’

The mother of the UK’s most premature twins says they are going from ‘strength to strength’ a year after coming home from hospital. Harley and Harry Crane, from Derbyshire, were given zero per cent chance of survival when they were born in October 2021 at 22 weeks and five days — more than a week before the usual abortion limit.

But the tough siblings beat the odds and came home after 140 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Now 17 months old, the pair are happy and healthy at home. And a year after leaving hospital mother Jade Crane, 41, said she finally no longer feels scared and knows her miracle babies are ‘staying here’.

Harley, who was born a tiny 500g, is now a ‘crazy’ 24lb and is standing up. Her brother Harry was born weighing 520g and has now reached 20lb. He is a little behind developmentally, but is ‘trying to crawl around’.

Harry and Harley Crane were born at at 22 weeks and five days in October 2021 and came home to Heanor, Derbyshire, after 140 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, but are now going strong

Parents Jade and Steve, 53, who works in sales, said they couldn’t be prouder of their twins and were looking forward to their future.

Jade, a former mental health nurse and addiction counsellor, said: ‘We are so blessed and lucky to have them doing so well.

‘It’s so crazy. Last year we were really scared. It was totally new to us. They’re here and they are staying here. I feel confident in that now.

‘They have gone from strength to strength. Their personalities haven’t changed since birth.

‘Harley is the feisty one and Harry was Mr Laid-Back. That’s how they are now, but amplified. They love each other.’

Jade and Steve had 11 years of fertility treatment before two implanted embryos on the eighth cycle of IVF resulted in twins.

The pair, pictured in the neonatal intensive care unit after birth, were given zero per cent chance of survival, but grew from strength to strength

She said: ‘I couldn’t let myself believe it. I was so fearful of a miscarriage or something going wrong.

‘I literally didn’t do anything during the pregnancy as a result.’

Harry and Harley Crane were born at at 22 weeks and five days in October 2021 and came home to Heanor, Derbyshire, after 140 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, but are now going strong

The pair, pictured in the neonatal intensive care unit after birth, were given zero per cent chance of survival, but grew from strength to strength

Jade, pictured with her husband Steve and Harry and Harley, said she now knows her babies are here to stay, after months in which they had to fight for their lives in hospital

Jade, pictured with her husband Steve and Harry and Harley, said she now knows her babies are here to stay, after months in which they had to fight for their lives in hospital

EXPLAINED: PREMATURE BIRTH AND ITS RISKS TO BABIES

Around 10 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide result in premature labour — defined as a delivery before 37 weeks.

When this happens, not all of the baby’s organs, including the heart and lungs, will have developed. They can also be underweight and smaller.

Tommy’s, a charity in the UK, says this can mean so-called preemies ‘are not ready for life outside the womb’.

Premature birth is the largest cause of neonatal mortality in the US and the UK, according to figures.

Babies born early account for around 1,500 deaths each year in the UK. In the US, premature birth and its complications account for 17 per cent of infant deaths.

Babies born prematurely are often whisked away to neonatal intensive care units, where they are looked after around the clock.

What are the chances of survival?

  • Less than 22 weeks is close to zero chance of survival
  • 22 weeks is around 10%
  • 24 weeks is around 60%
  • 27 weeks is around 89%
  • 31 weeks is around 95%
  • 34 weeks is equivalent to a baby born at full term

‘I was still in disbelief when we got to 20 weeks, and I hadn’t even hit my third trimester when I went into labour, so we hadn’t bought anything.’

After leaking fluid, Jade went to Queens Medical Hospital, Nottingham, to get checked in October 2021.

An internal examination revealed she was experiencing a premature rupture of membranes — in which the foetal membranes rupture before the onset of labour.

At 22 weeks pregnant, the mother feared the twins wouldn’t survive.

She said: ‘They told me they were going to admit me but that I was probably having a miscarriage.

‘The doctor kept saying it was a miscarriage, but I said it couldn’t be because I could feel the babies moving.

‘I knew they were OK but was being told they wouldn’t survive at this gestation.’

Abortion law in the UK states that women can terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks in most cases — and doctors are not required to medically intervene before.

Luckily for Jade, Queen’s Medical Centre, where she was being treated, is a teaching hospital and doctors intervene with babies born 23 weeks and later, she said.

At the time of going into labour, on October 26, 2021, Jade was still 30 hours away from the 23 week mark — but doctors chose to intervene, she said.

Jade said: ‘My babies were given a zero per cent chance of survival.

‘They were alive, moving around, and they cried. Their little cries sounded like a tiny kitten.’

Little Harley and Harry were intubated and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit where they remained on ventilators.

Jade with the two babies in the neonatal intensive care unit  where they fought for their lives for 140 days before being discharged and sent home

Jade with the two babies in the neonatal intensive care unit  where they fought for their lives for 140 days before being discharged and sent home

Harry, left and Harley, right, enjoying playtime together at home. Jade said Harley would be walking soon

Harry, left and Harley, right, enjoying playtime together at home. Jade said Harley would be walking soon

The twins battled chronic lung disease, a serious gastrointestinal problem called necrotizing enterocolitis and had many operations.

Harley had to have a stoma bag fitted, which has since been removed, and Harry received injections in his eyes to help prevent premature blindness.

Harry came home on March 6 last year and Harley joined him a week later.

Jade said: ‘I’m so proud of my babies — they’re little fighters.’

Aside from a week back in the hospital when Harley contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the twins are doing well, and both came off oxygen in July last year.

Jade said: ‘It was an anxious time. You expect them to be back in hospital. A week later Harley was — with RSV.

‘But we’ve had nothing further despite the bag being packed and ready to go..’

The twins’ corrected age is 13 months old and Harley is on track with her milestones.

Jade said: ‘She’s standing up. She’ll walk soon. I’m really happy with that.

‘Harry shows a few more delays. We have concerns over Harry potentially having a mild form of cerebral palsy.

‘He’s trying to crawl around. He’s a bit more behind but Harley will drag him along.’

The family won’t get an official diagnosis until Harry is two, but Jade feels ‘lucky’ her twins are doing so well.

The pair display strong personalities, with Harry being laid back and his twin sister being more 'feisty,' Jade said

The pair display strong personalities, with Harry being laid back and his twin sister being more ‘feisty,’ Jade said

Harry and Harley playing together at home. The pair made it home in March last year after months in hospital

Harry and Harley playing together at home. The pair made it home in March last year after months in hospital

She said: ‘Back then they said they’ll have no quality of life.

‘I remember I asked will they be able to feel love — at the time that’s all that mattered.

‘Harley’s the happiest baby you’ve ever met. She’s a charmer, smiley and very interactive. Harry’s a bit more serious.’

Jade and Steve celebrated the twins’ one-year anniversary of coming home by visiting the hospital.

She said: ‘It’s a home from home for us. We saw a lot of the nurses — they love it.

‘I always have that «what if»; it’s the PTSD of it all.

‘But we’re so looking forward to summer days out and putting them in a paddling pool for the first time.’

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