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Couple praise medics for saving baby twin Seb

BIRTHDAY boys Alex and Seb Hession were celebrating at home with their mum and dad this week after a dramatic first year of life.

Back home all together, Ben and Liz Hennian with twins Alexander, left, and Sebastian. Photo: Mark Williamson W4/1/21/0716. (44137651)
Back home all together, Ben and Liz Hennian with twins Alexander, left, and Sebastian. Photo: Mark Williamson W4/1/21/0716. (44137651)

The identical twins were born by emergency section on 1st February – prematurely at 27 weeks – after doctors became concerned that Seb wasn't growing.

Now the Wellesbourne family have praised medics who saved the "little fighter" after the pandemic kept them apart for more than six months.

The twins were born within 45 seconds of each other at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, but it soon became clear that things were serious for Seb after doctors diagnosed a heart problem.

To make matters worse for mum Liz and dad Ben, baby Seb suffered a brain haemorrhage at two days old, leading to a condition called hydrocephalus. As a final setback, Seb – born weighing just 2lb 1oz – was also diagnosed with a rare, one-in-5,000 condition called Hirschsprung’s disease, in which nerves are missing from the bowel.

Liz said: “On 1st February, at 27 weeks and five days, I had an emergency section. They were both born within a minute of each other. At that point we had no clue that there were any problems.

"In fact, it was Alex who was most poorly at the beginning and had to be ventilated. Both of them had heart issues – a duct in the heart that doesn’t close properly – which is fairly common in babies born prematurely.

“It often corrects itself, as it did for Alex, but Seb also had two holes in his heart which needed to be repaired. When he was two days old, Seb also had a bleed on the brain and that led to hydrocephalus, which causes fluid to build up.

“Seb was also having tummy problems, which at first they thought was necrotising enterocolitis, then a dairy intolerance, before it was diagnosed as Hirschsprung's disease when he was at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”

While the experience of having a baby undergo life-saving operations would be hard enough in normal times, the arrival of Covid made things even harder for Liz and Ben.

Ben said: “Going through all this was horrific. Alex was allowed to go home after eight weeks at the end of March, but then lockdown happened and he was not allowed back to see Seb. Me and Liz had to take turns to visit – only one of us was able to be there at one time.”

Seb’s fragile state, coupled with coronavirus restrictions, saw the identical twins separated for 134 days in total, but to make sure they never felt too far away from each other, Liz and Ben put photographs of each twin in the other’s cot.

At the end of the summer, the day everyone had been waiting for finally arrived: Seb was allowed to go home to be reunited with his twin brother on 11th August, having been in hospital for 192 days.

Liz said: “Seb’s had ten operations now. He’s got at least two more but he’s such a little fighter. He’s covered in scars, but we’ll tell him about it when he gets older.

“When Seb and Alex met again they were both intrigued by each other at first, but now they laugh and giggle with each other all the time. Alex is a bit more robust than Seb at the moment – he wants to play – but Seb’s catching up.”

The experience of being with Seb in the paediatric intensive care unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital has had a profound effect on both Liz and Ben, witnessing both the heartbreak of other parents going through tough times, but also the dedication of medics.

With the twins approaching their first birthday, Liz and Ben are raising money to support the two hospitals that did so much to help their family.

“We’re so thankful to everyone at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and Birmingham Children’s Hospital,” said Liz.

“Seb had to have CPR at one point – they saved his life. If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t be here. They were like a second family to us, always there to talk to or have a cup of tea with.

“Sadly, not everyone gets an ending like ours – it’s the nature of an intensive care unit – but it was just so sad watching other parents when we were in Birmingham who didn’t get the same outcome as us. It’s incredibly difficult to witness.

“This is why we’ve decided to raise money for both hospitals.”

To support Liz and Ben’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/alexandsebhession.

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