'Graduates' of Coombe miracle unit return to say thank you
THEY had a combined weight of the average pineapple and spent the first four months of their lives fighting for survival in an incubator.
But 20 years on, Dublin twins Tadhg and Emma MacHugh are thriving full-grown adults in their third year of college.
They were among 43 "graduates" of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital in Dublin who returned yesterday for a special "gathering" to mark World Prematurity Day. The gathering included two sets of twins and two sets of quadruplets.
Emma and Tadhg, from Kilmainham, Dublin, were born 15-weeks premature and weighed just over a pound each, which required them to spend 16 weeks in the unit's incubator.
"They're my two little miracles. It's great to see them doing so well," their proud mother Bernadette MacHugh said at a special reunion ceremony at the unit yesterday to thank the "fantastic team" of doctors and nurses who were instrumental in helping the twins survive and thrive.
Also attending the fete was two-year-old Miracle Odunuga who lived up to her name after defying the medical odds of survival which were strongly stacked against her when she was born at just 21 weeks.
Her mother Veronica Odunuga (42) and father Olufemi Odunuga (48), from Newbridge, Co Kildare, were among more than 50 parents and relatives who returned to show their gratitude to the staff who nurtured their babies to health.
Mrs Odunuga said it wasn't until she was 19 weeks pregnant at the age of 40 when she even realised she was carrying her daughter and it was even more of a shock when her waters broke a few weeks later and she gave birth to Miracle in Portlaoise before being transferred to the Coombe.
Like the MacHugh twins, Miracle weighed just under a pound but is now a happy and healthy toddler.
"Everything is perfect," Mrs Odunuga said. "She's happy and healthy and we are so grateful to the ICU team."
Nurse manager and organiser of the gathering, Mary O'Connor, said: "Newborn babies are very small and fragile and it can be heartbreaking to see the vulnerability of a baby born early.
"The NICU is a special unit within the hospital and it is immensely rewarding to see the babies we cared for now thriving as healthy adults and children."
The hospital cares for more than 1,000 premature babies each year.