Blood donors kept our lovely twins together
TWINS Kian and Kaitlyn weighed less than 6lb between them at birth and spent months in intensive care fighting for their lives.
Yet without the generosity of blood donors, only one of them would have survived.
Mum Theresa Lucas was only 28 weeks' pregnant when she needed an emergency caesarean and both babies were born with serious health problems.
But it was Kaitlyn who needed four blood transfusions before she could go home. Theresa said she could not thank the blood donors enough for saving her little girl's life.
She and dad Nathan, of Sinfin, said it was this, along with the Derby Telegraph's Save a Life campaign, which had convinced them to become donors.
We are looking for 500 more donors in Derbyshire in the run-up to Christmas.
Theresa, 30, said: "The twins are two-and-a-half now but we had them immediately christened after birth because we thought we'd lose them both.
"When they told me Kaitlyn would need a transfusion, I couldn't get my head around having someone else's blood inside her at first.
"But now I'm extremely grateful because, without it, she would have died. It was a miracle she survived and I fully appreciate now why giving blood is so important."
It was days before Theresa got to see Kian and Kaitlyn after they were born – weighing 3lb and 2lb 3oz respectively – as they were whisked into the neonatal unit at the Royal Derby Hospital.
While Kian was able to breathe on his own, Kaitlyn was put on a ventilator after one of her lungs collapsed.
Theresa said it was a "whirlwind" for her and Nathan, 29, of Grampian Way, in the days after the twins' birth in May 2010.
She said: "I went straight on to a ward because of the caesarian and couldn't see them until I was better. So, when I did see them, it was a bit of a shock. They were so small – Kaitlyn was about as big as the palm of my hand, with wires coming out of her.
"Her skin was transparent and she had chest drains inserted. With Kian being so tiny, too, we just weren't sure they'd survive. That was particularly the case with Kaitlyn because they told us it would be touch and go."
Kaitlyn spent two weeks on a ventilator before being moved on to another machine to keep her airway open. Kian spent six days on the same machine after developing septicaemia.
Theresa said: "This was life-threatening for Kian but, thankfully, they spotted it early because he was being monitored so closely. But that was the time we thought we'd lose them both."
Kaitlyn was three-and-a-half weeks old when she needed her first transfusion.
She had three more before going home four months after her birth, while it took Kian two months to get well enough to leave hospital.
Theresa – who has two other children, Chloe Girvan, 11, and Angel Lucas, four – said: "Kaitlyn had it really tough from day one.
"She dropped to 1lb 10oz at one point and has little scars over parts of her body from the medical intervention.
"She still has chronic lung disease and might need surgery when she gets older.
"But when you look at where she is, compared to where she was, she's doing fantastically well.
"And that's because of the blood transfusions. We'd never given blood before and, to be honest, I'd never even thought about where blood came from at that point.
"Because people give blood, it meant we could take Kaitlyn home."
Kaitlyn needed oxygen at home for more than two years.
Theresa, who found out she was having twins on her 28th birthday, said that being starved of oxygen at birth also meant Kaitlyn had suffered development problems.
She said: "Kian seems to have caught up but Kaitlyn's development is about the same as a one-year-old, even though she is two-and-a-half.
"She has only just started walking but her legs are quite bowed and she is having physio. She's also behind in her speech and, at one point, doctors thought she might have cerebral palsy.
"But she's a tough cookie and we're so lucky to have her – she's our special little girl. If she was any different, she wouldn't be our Kaitlyn."
Theresa said that, despite the ordeal the twins went through, she and Nathan did not get round to becoming blood donors like they had intended to.
She added: "After Kaitlyn received the transfusions, we said we wanted to give blood.
"But with four children and the health problems Kian and Kaitlyn have had, we've not really had time.
"So, when we saw the Derby Telegraph's Save a Life campaign, we thought, 'Yes, this is the time to do it'.
"We now understand what giving blood can do so, although I'm petrified of needles, I'm definitely willing to give blood. What does it matter if I can save the life of someone like Kaitlyn?"