double delight | 

Mum reveals how miracle conjoined twins were almost killed by Covid weeks after birth

“It was so surprising the girls were born healthy,” she said.

Hannah and Nick Bateson with their conjoined twins Annabelle and Isabelle (Image: Facebook)

Conjoined twins Annabelle and Isabelle Bateman before their successful separation

Annabelle and Isabelle Bateman

Aaron TinneySunday World

CONJOINED twins who survived being separated faced being killed by Covid hours after they were born.

Against-the-odds youngsters Annabelle and Isabelle Bateson last week lived through surgery after being born in March attached from their chests to the pelvis.

Because they had separate hearts, the one-in-two-and-a-half-million kids were able to survive being separated – despite sharing a liver, bladder, bowel and a fused leg.

Their NHS worker mum Hannah, from Toomebridge, Co Antrim, has told how the tiny girls faced being killed by Covid just after they were brought home from London’s University College Hospital.

“It was so surprising the girls were born healthy,” she said.

“Once we heard those cries in the operating theatre it just changed the whole tone of it all, and we really weren’t prepared for it to go so well.

“But as soon as we all came home we all got Covid. The surgery had been planned for the end of May and it had all been delayed, so we were waiting for those plans to be finalised.”

Conjoined twins Annabelle and Isabelle Bateman before their successful separation

Because of the girls’ delicate condition, their immune systems were massively more vulnerable to being ravaged by Covid than newborns delivered healthy who contracted the devastating virus.

The twins’ parents Hannah and fruit stall owner Dan had already been left amazed their babies had survived being born conjoined before they also lived through separation surgery.

Up to 60 per cent of conjoined twins arrive stillborn and only around 35 per cent survive one day.

Their longer-term survival depends on where they are conjoined and what organs they share – with chances of survival massively increased if they have separate hearts.

Relieved mum Hannah said before their separation procedure: “There was a lot of very smart people involved and there was a lot of very detailed imaging done with the girls and models created.

“We just had to have faith it would go well, but they’re very determined wee girls.”

The delighted parents say the girls looked like “a heart” when they were conjoined.

But they are realistic the girls have a “long and challenging” road to recovery ahead.

Hannah said: “One girl may have some issues, and the other wee girl may have a different set of issues, and they may be going for surgeries for the rest of their lives.

“But the rest of their lives should be good – it’s going to be more challenging for us.

“If we’re sitting in the hospital in 16 years with them it’s good news. It’s funny how your perspectives shift.”

Annabelle and Isabelle Bateman

The couple found out at their 12-week scan they were expecting conjoined twins – but Hannah predicted it before it was confirmed by medics.

“When we were doing the scan I was watching and it just dawned on both of us,” she said.

“I said, ‘Are they conjoined?’ and they said, ‘Yes, I think they are’.”

Hannah and Dan said the months of travelling between Northern Ireland and London for check-ups and last week’s surgery has placed a huge financial burden on them.

But they were backed by friends and customers of Dan’s, along with contributors to a Just Giving page they set up online.

It had aimed to raise £5,000 to raised funds for ‘the costs they’ll face along this journey’, but has ended up gaining to date nearly £22,000 in donations.

“The support has been amazing. Our Just Giving page and our church was fundraising – we just can’t get over the generosity from people,” Hannah said.

“We’ve never had to rely on that type of generosity but these wee girls have worked their way into so many people’s hearts and we’ll need that support into the coming years.”

The couple announced their girls had successfully been separated in a Facebook post that said: “Annie and Issie have been separated. It was a very long day, their surgery lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning but our wee girlies did so well.

“There is a long recovery in front of them and we expect there to be some bumps along the way but they are strong wee ladies and are being well cared for.

“I just want to say THANK YOU, the love we have been shown has been completely overwhelming and the prayers that have been said for them have carried us through. The team that carried out the girls surgery are just amazing and we are very grateful.

“Please continue to pray for their recovery, for healing and for them to be as comfortable as possible.

“Thank you God for having your hand on our daughters. Lots of love Annie, Issie, Dan & Hannah.”

One of a flood of comments in response to the news said: “Wee pets. So glad they have got through the op. Praying for strength, healing and comfort for them both over the next few weeks and months, also not forgetting mummy, daddy and family as they help these wee miracles along the way.”

Another fan of the family added: “This is the best news. My thoughts have been with you all especially over the past few days. Two very precious brave little girls with the most amazing mum and dad.”

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