This adorable picture shows the moment a premature baby was cuddled by his identical twin brother – who is three times the size of him.
Otis Graves was born too soon and weighed a tiny 3lb 7oz, but the life of his identical twin brother, Chester, hung in the balance as he was just 1lb 1oz.
After six weeks Otis was discharged and now weighs 6lb 3oz, but tiny Chester has fought for his life since his birth and still now only weighs 3lb 6oz.
Doting parents, Kelly Graves, 32, and husband, Billy, 35, from Benfleet, Essex, say they have no doubt that Chester’s miraculous fight for survival is down to the bond he shares with his identical twin, Otis.
Kelly said: “Since the day my waters broke at 28 weeks we’ve lived in a whirlwind.
“We are so lucky that Chester is a fighter and despite everything he has been through, he is still fighting in order to come home and be with his parents, Otis and the rest of the family.
“He is still being incubated and kept on high flow oxygen since being transferred back to our local hospital in Southend.
“We cannot wait to finally get Chester home. We are hoping to bring him back in November.”
Chester’s health problems first became apparent at Kelly’s 16-week scan, where she was informed the babies differed in size by 25 per cent – something that concerned the doctors.
The difference in size between the two brothers was due to a condition called Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction, which results in Chester not receiving the required nutrients from the placenta, halting his growth.
At 19 weeks, she was admitted to the Kings College Hospital in London for laser surgical treatment
She explained: “They informed us that there was the absent flow of nutrients to Chester was the reason why he wasn’t really growing.
“The surgery was performed to separate the babies in the womb so that if Chester hadn’t survived it would have protected Otis from dying or being left with lasting brain damage.”
After the surgery, Kelly and Billy were told Chester was still only growing around 25g a week, whereas Otis was growing roughly 100g a week.
She added: “I was being told at every scan that he may not survive which was heart-breaking.
“I went away and was eating around 200g of protein per day to help him grow and was drinking around five litres of water to try and get Chester’s water levels up as they were also low.
“This was not in any way proven to help but I tried everything I could to replenish his levels and keep him fighting.”
Chester’s condition stabilised but at 28 weeks, Kelly’s Waters broke, and she was blue lighted to go to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as she was likely to deliver.
She explained: “At this point, Chester was 485 grams which were close to being deemed viable, but we were told his heart rate kept dipping and that the chances of survival from the caesarean would below.
“We just had to hope that he would keep fighting.”
A C-section was performed, and Otis was immediately ventilated, but Chester had to first be stabilised as he had become very weak during the birth.
Kelly added: “Otis came out first and he was put into the incubator.
“When Chester came out, they found a knot in his cord which also halted his growth, and the consultant was desperate to get him incubated as soon as possible to help him survive.
“Thankfully they were able to ventilate him and ever since he has been fighting multiple issues such as Necrotising Enterocolitis, or NEC, which is a serious condition where tissue in the bowel becomes inflamed which Chester caught after nine days.
“He also had a hole in his heart which was discovered afterwards which has now thankfully closed and also eye surgery.”
The couple is also parents to Phoebe, 10, Florence, eight, and Albert, five, who the couple have said all been incredibly supportive.
Kelly added: “The kids have been incredible, they are so young but are just as desperate to get Chester home as they haven’t been able to even really meet him yet due to covid.”
Chester was able to be transferred to Southend Hospital, where Kelly visits him every day.
She said: “It is very bittersweet because we have Otis at home now and everyone says how nice it must be, but it’s also horrible because we can’t feel complete until both babies are back together.
“The twins finally met for the first time since being born on September 22, which was incredibly emotional.
“It was everything I was waiting for, and although Otis was asleep, Chester was obsessed with him and couldn’t take his eyes away from his brother.
“I have no doubt that cuddles with his twin have helped him keep fighting.”
Chester has now tripled his birth weight, currently weighing 3lb 6oz, and Kelly and Billy are desperate to get him home.
She added: ” He has to gain a further 255 grams still and will most likely be on low flow oxygen when he’s home, but we are hoping in around a month or two he can finally meet the rest of the family.”