These incredible images capture the moment the second-most preterm babies to survive were born.
Makayla and Makenzie Pope twin sisters were born at 22 weeks and 3 days old. Their mother Tracey Hernandez, from Durham in North Carolina, was told by doctors that her children had no chance of survival. The photos were taken at Duke University Hospital in Durham on December 8, 2019. The pictures show one of the babies still in the amniotic sac, Makenzie weighing just 1 pound 1 ounce and Makalya a little heavier, at 1 pound 3 ounces.
The little girls were born so prematurely that their skin was transparent, and their eyes were fused shut.
Their proud mum, Tracey Hernandez, 33, said: ‘When I went into labor they told me the survival rate for them was 0%. They said that babies born at less than 23 weeks just don’t make it.
Fortunately, despite warnings from doctors, the twins have thrived beyond the doctors and family’s expectations. Makayla and Makenzie were born at 7.55pm and 8.04pm on December 8 2019, four months before their due date of April 9 this year.
Mother-of-three, Tracey, has said there is no explanation as to why the twins decided it was time to enter the world so soon. She recalls how she was out Christmas shopping on their premature arrival date when she started to feel ‘uncomfortable’.
Just hours later Tracey went into labor 18 weeks early and was terrified that the twins wouldn’t be saved. According to Guinness World Records the most premature twins are Keeley and Kambry Ewoldt, from Iowa, who were born at a gestational age of 22 weeks 1 day, or 155 days, on November 24 2018.
In November 2010, a baby delivered in Germany was the most preterm ever. At the age of 21 weeks and 5 days, Freida Mangold was born. James Elgin Gill, who was born 128 days early in Ottawa, Canada in 1987, also shares the global record with her.
Babies born at 22 weeks are at the threshold of viability, and in the United States, the survival rate for babies born so soon is 0-10%. After successfully overcoming the crucial first few weeks of their fragile lives Makayla and Makenzie are being taught how to breathe on their own and feed from a bottle.