Kimyah and DJ, twin siblings born at barely 22 weeks, have defied the odds and become two of the youngest twins ever to survive premature delivery at the Cleveland Clinic.
Kim Thomas, their mother, told ABC News that at 21 weeks pregnant, she discovered she was four centimeters dilated, a sign that she would be in labor soon, which terrified her. Because she was only about halfway through her pregnancy, the doctors at Cleveland Clinic did everything they could to stop the labor.
Dr. Firas Saker, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, noted that for newborns born at that age, “the odds of survival are very low.”
Despite the doctors’ best efforts, Thomas gave birth to Kimyah and DJ on October 12, 2022, at the age of 22 weeks and one day. According to Guinness World Records, the youngest preterm twins to survive were delivered just one day earlier, in March 2022, at 22 weeks.
Kimyah and DJ were born weighing less than a pound each and were immediately transported to the neonatal intensive care unit. The doctors advised Damante Jackson, the twins’ father, that “even if they do survive, it’s not likely they’d make it the first three days.” Jackson stated that, while he doubts the twins would remember it, it was a traumatic experience for them.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Thomas spent practically every day and night in the NICU with the twins after they were born. Though she couldn’t keep them for a month due to their sensitive skin, she worked with Kimyah and DJ’s care team to assist in any way she could.
The clinic’s children’s personnel admitted that they had never worked with such little babies as the twins. “Her [Kimyah’s] extended hand actually wasn’t even big enough to cover my thumbnail,” recalled John Dickens, a neonatal respiratory therapist and NICU cardiopulmonary supervisor at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hillcrest Hospital.
One of the nurses, Rebecca, also remarked: “They fit in the palm of my hand.” While in the NICU, DJ had a lung collapse and Kimyah suffered from a minor brain bleed. All the while, their family never lost hope.
Their mother revealed that she celebrated all of their NICU milestones with them, including their baby shower, first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s.
Kimyah and DJ were finally healthy enough to go home on February 27 after 138 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, making them the Cleveland Clinic’s youngest surviving preterm twins.
Kimyah and DJ’s care team, which included Dr. Saker, Sara, and Becky Stuart, RN, got together to hold a graduation ceremony on the day of their discharge, when the twins wore pink and blue caps and gowns.
As Thomas and her family walked out of the hospital, the corridors were lined with clapping caregivers who had bonded with the twins throughout their months in the hospital. Kimyah and DJ are currently in good health, according to their parents, and will be one year old next month.