‘My healthy twin saved her sister’s life by sending out distress signals’

‘My healthy twin saved her sister’s life by sending out distress signals’

A pair of twins saved her sister’s life by sending out distress signals from the womb, prompting the doctors to give both of them a premature birth.

Poppy McBride’s heartbeat started fluctuating on the monitor when she was unborn at 31 weeks.

Doctors in Texas then intervened and delivered her and her twin sister Winnie early.

But Poppy was fine, there was nothing wrong with her heart. It was Winnie who was in trouble – and doctors credit Poppy for saving Winnie’s life.

Babies Winnie (L) and Poppy (R) were both born small – but Poppy was credited by doctors with saving Winnie’s life

Winnie and Poppy McBride: The twins are now three years old and are thriving after their initial scare

Mom Leah McBride, 28, who stays home with her girls, said: “Our doctors told us, ‘I think your little twin sister saved her sister’s life.’

“Poppy’s heartbeat had been all over the place so they had to go into labour, but when she was born she was completely fine.

“They think she sent out distress signals because she knew her sister wouldn’t survive if they weren’t delivered then.”

Leah and her husband, Austin, 27, a faucet mechanic, found out at 21 weeks that their girls had had a twin transfusion – where there is an imbalance in blood flow that makes one baby a donor and the other a recipient of all the nutrients.

Despite being told there was an unlikely chance of survival for either baby, Leah underwent successful surgery to correct the imbalance in blood sharing.

She then managed to make it to 31 weeks and five days before Poppy sent out the warning signal and both twins were delivered.

Despite being the smaller of the twins at 1lb 11oz, Poppy was perfectly healthy – there was nothing wrong with her heart.

It was Winnie – born weighing 3 pounds 8 oz – that the doctors hadn’t worried about, who was born with underdeveloped lungs and taken to intensive care.

Winnie then had surgery at the age of 14 to relieve a buildup of fluid in her brain before miraculously recovering.

Initially, Leah was advised by doctors to abort one of her babies to give the other a better chance – but she refused and kept them both

Tiny Baby: Despite weighing just 1 lb 11 oz when she was delivered, Poppy was actually the stronger of the two babies

Smart baby: Poppy (pictured) sent distress signals from the womb so doctors would deliver and save her twin sister

Doctors realized Winnie, pictured here on a ventilator, was in trouble when she was born at 31 weeks

Winnie (pictured here after her brain surgery) was the taller of the twins, but the one with the worst health

The girls were saved after Poppy sent out distress signals from the womb, so they both came into the world early

Despite being the smallest of the twins, Poppy was actually fine. It was her bigger sister Winnie who was in trouble

Poppy remained healthy, but had to stay in hospital to gain weight before she could go home.

Winnie was discharged after 52 days and Poppy followed two days later and the twins are now best friends and thriving.

Leah said, “Even now, Poppy is taking care of Winnie, even though Poppy is much smaller.

‘I like being big and small. They’re so close – it’s sweet.’

It has been a long and emotional journey for the girls’ parents.

Leah and Austin were thrilled to find out they were expecting twins in January 2019 after a year of trying to conceive.

“I was very excited,” Leah added.

The couple then discovered that they were expecting identical twins and had to be watched closely.

Leah had two ultrasounds every month to make sure her pregnancy was going well, until a thorough scan at 21 weeks showed something was wrong.

“They told me to come to the doctor first thing the next day,” Leah said.

“Of course I googled everything that could be wrong and came across twin-to-twin transfusion.

“The doctor said he could barely see one twin and the other twin was surrounded by so much fluid.”

Leah and Austin (pictured) were over the moon when they found out that Leah was pregnant with twins

Loved up: Leah and her husband Austin and their twins. The family is lucky that both girls survived

Leah was diagnosed with stage three twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and recommended that baby B – Poppy – be terminated to give baby A – Winnie – a better chance of survival.

“There was already a 48 percent difference in the girls’ size and they were worried that Poppy would have a heart attack while she was passing all the nutrients to Winnie and they thought Winnie would have a stroke,” she said.

“But I didn’t want to choose one baby over another.”

Lean then got a second opinion at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston, Texas.

She was told that surgery could be more successful than previously advised and was given the night to rest.

“We spent the night in shock from the day’s events praying that we would still have two heartbeats the next day,” Leah said.

“I remember lying there most of the night finalizing the names of the girls because I couldn’t imagine anything happening to them and no names had been chosen yet.”

The next morning, Leah underwent surgery where she was kept awake while doctors worked to stabilize the blood balance.

The procedure was successful and Leah was sent home on bed rest and seen regularly by doctors.

At 27 weeks and six days, Leah’s water broke and she was rushed to the delivery ward and given steroids to stop her labour.

“We had to buy as much time as possible because 28 weeks was too early to deliver them safely,” she said.

Leah managed to last under 31 weeks and five days, when Poppy’s heart rate dropped too low and wouldn’t rise.

Winnie and Poppy were born on May 24, 2019 weighing 3lbs 8oz and 1lbs 11oz.

Mother Leah McBride from Texas with her twins Poppy and Winnie, who are now healthy and thriving

The girls, pictured here in named sweaters, are now three years old and thriving and the best of friends

“Poppy just needed some oxygen, but she was fine,” Leah said.

‘She was smaller than an elf on the shelf.

“Doctors said she was feisty.

“But Winnie, the larger of the two, who I had never worried about, was very unhealthy.

Her lungs were underdeveloped.

“They weren’t sure she’d make it.”

Miraculously, Winnie made it through, but had to have brain surgery at the age of 14 due to a buildup of fluid in the brain.

“A reservoir was placed with the intention of placing a shunt once she grew a little more, but despite that there was only a 10 percent chance that it would resolve on its own,” Leah said.

Poppy had to receive blood transfusions and stayed in the hospital two days longer than her sister to ensure she gained 4 pounds.

Now both twins have nothing wrong with them except Winnie has to wear glasses and be the best of friends.

“They’re as smart as they come,” Leah said.

Winnie is smarter than average.

‘She can read books by heart when she is three.

“I recently tried to separate their beds, but I couldn’t.

“They’re both great.”