The article tells the story of Brielle and Kyrie Jackson, twins born on October 17, 1995, 12 weeks prematurely. Brielle was not expected to survive and was placed in an incubator, while Kyrie was also placed in a separate incubator.
When Brielle's condition worsened and she struggled to breathe, a nurse at the hospital broke protocol and put the twins in the same incubator. Kyrie is said to have put her arm around Brielle, who then stabilized and her temperature returned to normal.
Heidi and Paul Jackson's twin daughters, Brielle and Kyrie, were born on October 17, 1995, 12 weeks prematurely. In order to reduce the risk of infection, it is standard practice for preterm twins to be placed in separate incubators, which is what happened to Brielle and Kyrie at The Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester.
Kyrie, the larger of the two twins at birth, weighing in at two pounds, three ounces, quickly gained weight and slept peacefully as a newborn. However, Brielle, who weighed only two pounds at birth, struggled with breathing and heart rate issues. She had low oxygen levels in her blood and her weight gain was slow.
On November 12, Brielle's condition suddenly worsened and she went into critical condition. She struggled to breathe and her skin turned bluish-gray. Her heart rate increased and she began to hiccup, which is a sign of stress on the body. Brielle's parents watched in fear as they worried that she might not survive.
The Last Ditched Effort To Save Brielle's Life
Nurse Gayle Kasparian attempted to stabilize Brielle by suctioning her airways and increasing the oxygen flow to the incubator. Despite these efforts, Brielle continued to struggle, with her oxygen intake decreasing and her heart rate rising.
Kasparian then remembered a procedure that she had heard about from a colleague. This procedure, which is common in some parts of Europe but almost unknown in the United States, involves placing multiple-birth babies, particularly preemies, in the same bed.
Kasparian's nurse manager, Susan Fitzback, was away at a conference at the time, and the decision to place the twins in the same bed was unconventional. However, Kasparian decided to take the risk.
"Let me just try putting Brielle in with her sister to see if that helps," she said to the concerned parents. "I don't know what else to do."
The Jacksons agreed to the procedure and Kasparian placed Brielle in the incubator with Kyrie, whom she had not seen since birth. Kasparian and the Jacksons watched closely as the procedure was carried out.
The Rescuing Hug
As soon as the incubator door was closed, Brielle snuggled up to Kyrie and immediately calmed down. Within minutes, Brielle's blood oxygen levels were the highest they had been since her birth. Kyrie wrapped her arm around her smaller sister as Brielle slept.
Coincidentally, the conference that Fitzback was attending included a presentation on the benefits of double-bedding multiple-birth babies. She thought that this was something she would like to see implemented at The Medical Center, but anticipated that it might be difficult to implement the change.
When she returned from the conference, she was making rounds when the nurse caring for the twins that morning pointed out the successful double-bedding of Brielle and Kyrie. Fitzback was amazed and exclaimed, "I can't believe this. This is so beautiful." The nurse asked, "You mean, we can do it?" to which Fitzback replied, "Of course we can."
Today, co-bedding, or the practice of placing multiple-birth babies in the same bed, is widely accepted as a special treatment for newborn twins. It has been shown to reduce the number of hospital days and lower risk factors for these infants. This practice is now used in institutions around the world.