Premature twin who stopped breathing and was put on ventilator celebrates first Christmas at home

Samantha Smith with her partner Dale and their sons Lucas (left) and Leo (right)

Two boys who were born prematurely and had to fight for their lives have enjoyed their first Christmas at home with their parents.

Samantha Smith's sons, Lucas and Leo, were born eight weeks early on Christmas day last year, after an emergency caesarean. Sam had pre eclampsia, and was told that she needed to give birth early for their safety.

Lucas arrived first, but wasn't breathing. Doctors acted quickly and managed to resuscitate him before his brother Leo arrived.

The family from Hertfordshire were devastated to find out that both boys needed to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage as they both battled to breathe.

Samantha and Lucas

Samantha said: "I didn't even realise he had been born because he wasn't breathing so he didn't cry or make any noise. The doctors gave him five rescue breaths and after a few worrying minutes they were able to resuscitate him and get him stable."

"It wasn't until two hours later that we were able to go and see them, which was surreal. They looked so small in their incubators, surrounded by wires."

Leo was able to leave hospital after two weeks but Lucas was struggling with his breathing. He spent four weeks receiving assistance from a high flow oxygen machine. Six weeks after the boys were born, Samantha and her husband Dale were able to bring them home.

But, a few weeks later, Lucas experienced further complications and developed a wheeze, requiring emergency treatment. He was placed on a ventilator, which saved his life before being transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for specialist care.

Samantha with Lucas and Leo

Sam and her partner Dale were supported by the Sick Children's Trust while Lucas was in hospital, providing on site accomodation at Addenbrookes, meaning the couple wouldn't have to commute each day to see their son.

She said: "I had no idea what they were talking about, but they explained it's a 'Home from Home' run by The Sick Children's Trust. The charity provides families with a place to stay free of charge while their child is seriously ill in hospital. We made the two-minute walk over to Acorn House and it was everything we needed in that moment. We live an hour away from Addenbrooke's Hospital and the situation was already very stressful for us."

Lucas returned home after 8 weeks, before the breathing problems returned again, when he needed to go back to Addenbrookes for another two weeks before returning home.

Since then both boys have been doing well and the family enjoyed Christmas at home this year.

To thank the charity for its support Dale completed a 50k Thames path challenge with his friend Darryl raising over £2,000 for the charity.