Parents' joy at birth of twins at just 23 weeks and four days

The parents of identical twins born at just 23 weeks and four days have spoken of their joy.

Claire Weir can now look after Imogen and Annabelle at home. Picture: Helen Peck/Saltire News

Claire and James Weir’s daughters Imogen and Annabelle are thought to be the youngest twins ever recorded in Britain – three days under the 24-week legal limit for abortion.

The Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), who have supported the family, said the twins were “truly incredible” and “a miracle”.

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Annabelle weighed just under a pound and Imogen was just over. Their lives hung in the balance when they were born unexpectedly last April.Spending their first four months in hospital, the sisters endured multiple blood transfusions and emergency surgery. They could not even wear clothes for fear their delicate skin might tear.

However, they are now laughing and smiling at home in Paisley, Renfrewshire, and amazing doctors with their progress.

Mrs Weir, 31, said: “They are the youngest and smallest surviving twins to be born in Scotland.

“I’d never heard of twins so small surviving. It didn’t seem possible for one, let alone two.

“The consultant told us that if the girls had been born just two years ago they wouldn’t have survived – that’s how fast medical technology is advancing. They have surprised everyone. They will always be our little miracles.”

The couple, who are both 31, met at university in Dundee nine years ago and married in 2013.

Mrs Weir’s scan at 20-week showed that the twins were growing well, but just over a fortnight later, at 22-and-a-half weeks, her waters broke.

Doctors at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley warned the couple they would not able to provide resuscitation for the infants if they were born under 28 weeks, so Mrs Weir was transferred to the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

While others on the ward were eager for their babies to arrive, she was desperate to prolong her pregnancy.

“I was just trying to keep the babies inside me for as long as possible,” Mrs Weir said. “It was a really horrible time, filled with worry. I just tried not to move too much.”

The couple have received support from Tamba, who said the twins’ story was “truly incredible”.

Helen Peck, Tamba’s Scottish co-ordinator, said: “To see premature babies born this early and go on to do so well is incredibly rare. It is a testament to the wonderful medical staff that they are now growing well.”