The twin boys who clung on for life

They’re the twin boys who clung on for life after being born at just 25 weeks.

“My babies were born fighters. Cathal lost his battle after 30 days, but he has looked after his brother ever since. ”

Marie, Cathal & Lorcan's mum

Lorcan - patient
Marie and Jonathan get to hold their precious baby

Little Lorcan and Cathal O’Halloran fought to survive when complications meant they had to be delivered prematurely. The tiny babies weighed just 1lb and 7ozs when they were born. It was a bittersweet outcome for the young Co Cork family – Cathal passed away following a month-long fight, while Lorcan survived and recently celebrated is first birthday. Now mum Marie believes Cathal is “looking after” his twin brother.

The twins from Charleville in Co Cork were born on May 30, 2014, when they were just 25 weeks old. It was the first pregnancy for Marie and Jonathan. The couple were told that because they were identical twins and shared the same placenta, there was more risk, but in the early months, everything was going to plan. However at 23 weeks complications started to develop. A scan showed that blood flow through the cord had been restricted and Cathal’s development was suffering. Marie was admitted to the maternity department in Cork University Hospital immediately.

Marie ended up spending 21 days in hospital, carrying the boys for as long as possible. But Cathal continued to fall behind in his development, so after  consultation with the medics, the couple decided to have the babies delivered as this gave them the best chance of survival.

“The doctors told us everything that was happening and were brilliant, and we thought that delivery was the best choice. Lorcan was born first at just 1lb 7ozs. Cathal came after him and he was 3ozs lighter. They both cried and I could hear the fight in them – it was the only time I heard Cathal cry.”

Marie says she is still so grateful to the nurse who thought of taking pictures of the boys when they were minutes old. After that they were wrapped up to keep warm, whisked away to incubators and put on ventilators in ICU. Marie got to hold Lorcan when he was 3 ½ weeks old, but even then Cathal was too frail. Lorcan developed an infection the week before Cathal died and for a while they were more worried about him. But it was Cathal who passed away after living for 30 days.

“The day I first got to hold him was the day we said goodbye. He died in our arms on June 29 and we told him it was okay to go as long as he looked after his brother.”

Lorcan - patient
Lorcan just before his first birthday

On the night of Cathal’s funeral, Lorcan was rushed to Temple Street for emergency surgery for a perforated bowel.

“The team in Temple Street were fantastic and the surgery they carried out saved Lorcan’s life. When we finally got to bring Lorcan home 5 months after his birth, it took us 2 hours to leave with the hugs and goodbyes.”

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