A truly unusual pregnancy in Ireland resulted in twin girls being born 87 days apart.
The mother, Maria Jones-Elliot of Glenmore, County Kilkenny, first gave birth to Amy at 23 weeks on June 1, 2012. She was four months early and weighed little more than a pound.
Jones-Elliot, who knew she was having twins, was shocked when she went into labor early. What was even worse was when the contractions ended with the second child still inside her body.
“My contractions just stopped dead – it was like I’d never even given birth,” she said. “Doctors were stunned they’d never seen anything like this before … It should have been a joyful time but it was horrific. I had one baby in intensive care and one baby still inside me clinging to life.”
Her second daughter, Katie, was born naturally 87 days later on August 27. The birth set a new record. The longest period between births for twins was held by a mother in Pennsylvania who had twin boys born 84 days apart from 1995 to 1996.
Master of Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, Dr. Sam Coulter Smith, said the safe birth of the twins is “truly extraordinary.”
Twins are usually delivered within minutes of each other.
“For a baby delivered at 23 weeks to survive is a huge achievement from everyone’s point of view. For a 23-week twin to survive is even bigger because twins often behave more prematurely than singleton babies. That really is right at the absolute border of viability,” Coulter Smith said.
Dr. Eddie O’Donnell of Waterford Regional Hospital, where the babies were born, said the longest interval between births he had previously ever seen was two weeks.
"In medical terms to have both babies and mum come through this healthy and happy is the medical equivalent of a lottery win. We are delighted for the whole family and couldn’t be happier we were able to play a part in their miraculous birth,” O'Donnell said.
Maria Jones-Elliott and her husband Chris have two older children and refer to the birth of their twins a miracle.