Identical twins from Iowa who broke a world record for most premature twins after they were born at just 22 weeks and one day have defied the odds and are now 3 1/2 years old and loving life.
Mom of four Jade Ewoldt welcomed her twins, Keeley and Kambry, on Nov. 24, 2018. Her original due date was March 29, 2019, but after finding out that her babies had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) at 16 weeks, she gave birth 125 days early.
Keeley and Kambry were born at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics shortly before midnight, nine minutes apart, weighing 1 pound 1.3 ounces (490 grams) and 15.8 ounces (449 grams) respectively. They quickly became Guinness World Record breakers, and hold the record for Most Premature Twins to this day.
Yet, the early days were terrifying for Jade.
"I was exhausted and really scared; I had never seen a baby so small," Jade told The Epoch Times. "Now, knowing how far they've come, I still don't believe it."
From the early days, Jade learned to lean and trust on God.
"I believe witnessing their survival was God performing two miracles before my eyes," she said.
Despite historically low survival odds for babies born at 22 weeks, the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics boasts a Level 4 NICU, offering the highest possible level of neonatal care in the United States.
"The doctors were very optimistic; they believe all babies have a fighting chance with specialized medical care," said Jade. "They treat babies born at 22 weeks and one day as if they will survive. They give them the care they need."
He also added that the medical team expects such children to survive and thrive.
Even though the road to recovery was going to be long, the health care professionals remained really hopeful.
After the birth of the twins, for the five months that followed, the mother of four split her time between caring for her two older kids, Koy and Kollins, at home and the twins at Stead Family Children’s Hospital. She would spend 2 1/2 hours every day seeing her twins.
Kambry was discharged after 138 days in the NICU to start living with her family, whilst Keeley followed after 144 days.
After coming home, both girls, who suffer from chronic lung disease and severe BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), were put on oxygen for their ongoing care.
The twins spent two years on oxygen at home and were admitted to the hospital six times for treatments and a 10-day PICU stay for Kambry. Both of them currently use inhalers daily to keep up with their lung disease and BPD. They also continue to see their lung doctor every year and will for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, Keeley lives with eye conditions that she developed—retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)—after premature birth. Meanwhile, Kambry received four new diagnoses in the spring of 2021: cerebral palsy with poor gait control, autism, oral aversion, and sensory processing disorder.
In the last six months, they have also suffered from colds many times, but have managed to recover without resorting to any medication.
"Each week the twins continue to be home with their individual nurses, who help them skill build and stay healthy while I work from home," she wrote. "Both girls know over 30 sign words, talk in full sentences, talk a LOT, love to try new things, love exploring, and are advanced for their age in regards to some requirements they’d need to meet for school."
Sharing more about their individual personalities, Jade wrote that Keeley, who is a clumsy and messy eater, is a sassy, sweet little girl who loves babies and dressing up, and is in charge just like a teen girl.
On the other hand, Kambry, who Jade describes as a "ham," can find a way to make you smile no matter what the situation. A tomboy at heart, she is the complete opposite of her sister, and is an organized and clean eater.
Both girls attend weekly therapy sessions when they are healthy enough and are headed to preschool in the fall. Kambry and her mom are also receiving support from Balance Autism, which Jade hopes will help both of them to navigate and live through autism.
Jade is keen for her girls to understand as much about themselves as possible.
"I've been ... helping them to understand more about their start to life which has welcomed a lot of curious questions," she wrote. "I’m so proud of the things they ask and completely shocked at their understanding."
As her girls go from strength to strength, Jade shared her key message with The Epoch Times: "A baby born in the peri-viable state can survive and thrive with medical intervention. The outcomes of these babies are increasing every day."