Human Interest

World’s most premature twins celebrate first birthday after predicted ‘zero percent’ chance of survival

premature twins, Nadarajah

Canadian twins who were born a whopping 126 days early — at just 22 weeks — have earned a new spot in the Guinness World Records, becoming the most premature twins ever to survive. The twins broke the record set by Keeley and Kambry Ewoldt who were born 125 days early in November 2018.

The babies, Adiah Laelynn and Adrial Luka Nadarajah, celebrated their first birthday on March 4. According to their parents, Shakina Rajendram and Kevin Nadarajah, if the babies had been born just one hour earlier, they wouldn’t have made it, as the hospital would have refused to offer them care.

Shakina and Kevin described the harrowing birth of their premature twins in an interview with Guinness World Records. Shakina explained that she was rushed to the hospital after going into labor at 21 weeks and five days pregnant.


“The initial reaction was, ‘I’m sorry for your loss, you’re going to lose these babies. They’re going to come out any minute now and there’s no possibility that they’re going to survive,'” Kevin said.

Shakina added, “They advised us that there was nothing they could do, and the best the hospital could offer us was comfort care, meaning once the babies were born they would take the babies and put them on my chest and Kevin’s chest, and they would just wait for them to die.”

After an ultrasound showed that the twins were still “very much alive” with strong heartbeats, Shakina and Kevin remember “begging” the hospital staff to do everything they could. They found an organization called TwentyTwo Matters, whose goal is to raise awareness about the viability of babies born at 21 and 22 weeks. The group created a map sharing the locations of hospitals that are equipped and willing to help such premature babies.

Kevin and Shakina got in touch with the organization immediately, and they were able to message back and forth with a woman who told them what questions to ask and treatments to suggest to the hospital. The organization also told them that Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, nearby, would resuscitate the babies if they were born at 22 weeks. At that time, Shakina was only 21 weeks and 5 days — and the hospital would refuse to help if her children were born.

“We felt really distressed, we felt helpless. We didn’t know what else we could do,” Shakina said. Thankfully, although Shakina was having contractions, her twins held off and didn’t arrive immediately, allowing her parents time to transfer to Mount Sinai Hospital.

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“At Mount Sinai Hospital, the team informed us that if the babies were born that day, it would be a death sentence for the babies if they were born before 22 [weeks], because they did not have the capacity to resuscitate babies before 22 weeks either,” Shakina said.

“Amidst all that scenario of being told that the chance of survival is pretty much zero percent, and chance of disability and that too, significant disability is really high, we were just clinging to our hope and faith, trusting in God,” Kevin added.

Shakina described trying as hard as she could to hold the babies in so that they would reach the 22-week mark. She reflected on one close call where she thought her water had broken 30 minutes before midnight, and tearfully believing that her babies would be coming and it would be her fault that they wouldn’t survive. “I thought that this was it,” she remembered. “They are gonna die and it’s gonna be because of me.”

In a situation that both parents describe as “miraculous,” Shakina’s water didn’t actually break until 12:15 a.m. — when she had reached the 22-week mark. The babies were born soon afterward, with Adiah weighing just 330 grams and Adrial weighing 420 grams.

Both children faced a significant uphill battle and had to overcome many medical challenges in their early life. Amazingly, after six long months in the NICU, they were able to go home with their parents.

The parents say they are happy that their premature twins have the record, but even more than that, they hope that it helps pave the way for other premature babies to be given the help they need to survive. Their wish is that their twins’ record is broken by an even younger set of premature twins, changing how the world views viability.

“I think what we’re both happy about and passionate about is that this is going to help push the dialogue on viability,” Kevin said. “We do hope that this is a record that gets broken and signifies that progress is being made in terms of babies that can be resuscitated even at much earlier gestation and recognizing that life begins so much earlier than you might know at this point today.”

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