awesome - Newborn Twin Hugs Her Dying Twin And Something Miraculous Happens

    Much has been said about the power of human connection. And it’s true, humans are social animals and connection is more important to us than we realize. Even a simple touch can save lives. Don’t believe us? Then you’ve never heard the story of Kyrie and Brielle Jackson.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    On October 17, 1995, twin sisters Brielle and Kyrie Jackson were born at a hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. They arrived 12 weeks before their due date, so they had to be kept at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They required lots of care and attention, which is standard procedure for premature babies. But what these twins went through was not only exceptional, it ended up changing the course of neonatal care throughout the U.S.

    Jackson family
    The sisters weighed only 2.2 pounds each. They looked like “tiny dolls”, as one of the doctors at the hospital put it. Given that they were born so early, their condition was critical. They were kept in separate incubators to prevent infections, and were monitored 24/7. Even though hospital staff were doing everything in their power to keep them alive, nurses warned parents Heidi and Paul Jackson that things could change at any moment.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    “They told me upfront that things looked pretty good now, but […] in the next 48-72 hours things could turn very quickly,” recalled the twins’ father. The survival of the twins was not guaranteed, and their parents and caregivers had to watch the tiny babies as they fought for their lives at every second. Days and weeks passed, and slowly there was some improvement.

    Erin Digitale/Scope Blog
    At three weeks old, Kyrie’s condition was improving. She began to gain weight and her breathing was slowly moving towards a normal rhythm. This was good news and gave her parents a sliver of hope in such uncertain times. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for her sister Brielle.

    Lisa Arneill
    Brielle’s condition, unlike Kyrie’s, was declining. She struggled to breathe and gain weight, her heart rate was soaring, and her oxygen levels became so low her face started to turn blue. The baby cried in distress every hour of every day, even as hospital staff did everything they could to restore her to health. One nurse in particular was willing to go the extra mile to help Brielle survive.

    Gaudi Y Mas
    Gayle Kasparian was a nurse working in the ICU at UMass Memorial hospital. She was one of the nurses in charge of the Jackson twins’ care, and became very worried by Brielle’s lack of progress. She knew the baby could die, but she was not ready to give up yet. She tried every method of preemie care she knew, in hopes of seeing some improvement.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    Kasparian held Brielle constantly and also let her father hold her, hoping to alleviate the baby’s distress and lower her heart rate. She wrapped her in comfort blankets and kept her nose clean to avoid obstruction of the airways. Nothing was working, and she was running out of ideas. Then she remembered a method of neonatal care used in Europe, but there was one problem: it had never been done in the U.S. before.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    The method Kasparian wanted to try involved putting the baby in the same incubator as her twin sister. But not only was this unexplored in the U.S., it also went against hospital policy. General wisdom at the time deemed premature babies too fragile and at risk of SIDS. Still, the nurse realized this was the last chance to try and save Brielle, so she took it.

    Chris Christo/T&G Archive
    Kasparian transferred Kyrie, who was stronger, to Brielle’s incubator. Their father Paul will never forget what Kyrie did next: “They really couldn’t move that much, but there was a little bit of a squirm and the arm kind of just went up.” As little as she was, the baby put her left arm around her sister’s body, while they both lay on their tummies. Then, the miracle occurred.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    Brielle’s breathing and vital signs instantly stabilized. Her condition was clearly looking up: the crying stopped, and she soon started to gain weight. And as long as they were together, Brielle’s health continued to improve. All it took was her sister’s touch, which was captured for posterity by a stroke of luck.

    Chris Christo Photography
    Local photographer Chris Christo happened to be at that hospital at the time, and news of the twins’ miracle soon spread across the building. He snapped a photo of Kyrie with her arm around Brielle, and dubbed it “the rescuing hug.” No one at that moment imagined the iconic status the picture would reach.

    The Situation Room/CNN
    After the story was published on the Telegram & Gazette, it was quickly picked up by other outlets. The photograph would eventually make the cover of Life Magazine and Reader’s Digest, and soon circulated around the world. The Jacksons even had to change their phone numbers to evade the endless calls of potential interviewers. But there was a reason this story got so big.

    Jackson family
    The Jackson twins’ case was a historic moment for neonatal care in the United States. Medial professionals began to realize the importance of skin-to-skin contact in the survival of premature babies. UMass Memorial changed their guidelines on twin births, as did many other hospitals in the country. But what was it about what nurse Kasparian did that made such a difference?

    The Situation Room/CNN
    The idea of skin-to-skin contact evolved into a method called “Kangaroo care.” Hospitals now encourage mothers and fathers to hold their naked babies to their bare chest, providing this contact for several hours each day. Research has shown this helps regulate babies’ bodily temperature and get more sleep, which results in positive health effects. The Jackson twins were part of a breakthrough in neonatal medicine twenty years ago. But how are they now?
    Having just turned 22 years old, Brielle and Kyrie are as normal as any young woman their age. They have been best friends their whole lives and share a special connection, finishing each other’s sentences and singing the same song in their heads. They don’t remember their life-and-death ordeal, but there’s a photo and a globally-known story to remind them of the miracle they lived through.

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