Toddler near death survived ‘due to twin bond’

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A toddler who was an hour from death and needed 47 pints of blood to keep her alive pulled through due to the special bond with her identical sister, her mother has said.

Described as a “medical miracle”, Isla Smith, two, from Lasswade, was so ill following heart surgery doctors described her as the sickest baby in the hospital.

Her survival has been credited her twin sister Catherine.

Mum Laura, 33, a financial adviser, said: “When the doctors started to bring Isla round in intensive care, she improved when Catherine was there. If Catherine made a sound, Isla would flinch and move about.

“Research has shown that an identical twin will heal 20 per cent quicker if they are kept with their twin.

“I totally believe having Catherine there made a big difference. Now, we just love having them back together. It’s exactly how it should be.”

Because of serious heart problems, Isla has spent three weeks on a ventilator, battled numerous infections and recently suffered from pneumonia. But despite her health problems, she remains a happy-go-lucky girl.

Laura and her husband James found out something was wrong when a routine scan two weeks into her pregnancy showed their daughter had Tetralogy of Fallot – a combination of four heart defects, including a hole in the heart and narrowing of the pulmonary valve.

Isla and her sister were born by Caesarean section at the ERI on December 21, 2011, weighing 4lb 2oz and 5lb 11oz respectively.

Despite being slightly blue in colour, Isla needed no medication or extra treatment.

But at seven months old she was taken to Yorkhill children’s hospital in Glasgow to correct the defects. It was only when surgeons operated that they realised quite how serious Isla’s condition was.

Laura sad: “They had to make two incisions in the heart instead of just one.

“We were expecting her out of surgery by two o’clock but we still hadn’t heard anything by six o’clock so you can imagine what we were thinking.”

Over the next 24 hours, Isla’s heart became so swollen that the intensive care unit was turned into a surgery.

Laura sad: “Her liver, kidneys, heart, lungs – everything just went in to meltdown.

“We were told another hour and her brain would have shut down too and she would have died.”

But after a week on an artificial heart and lung machine, Isla started to improve.

Isla is still small for her age, weighing 18lb compared to her 26lb twin, but is now developing exactly the same as her 
sister.

She received so much blood during her three months in hospital that it would take her parents more than ten years as donors to give back the same amount.

The family has raised more than £3000 for the Yorkhill Children’s Charity.