Premature baby twins born during pandemic overcome incredible odds with help of NICU nurses

Despite the pandemic, there is still a lot more going on at hospitals than just treating COVID-19 patients.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer is a remarkable example of one team of nurses and doctors who are making a difference every day.

Laura Freeland gave birth to Vivienne and Margot at 22 weeks, and each child weighed just a bit over 1 pound.

Only 1 in 7 babies born as early as that make it, and the odds are even worse for twins.

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“It was a fight for their life that started, and we knew going into it that the odds were not good,” Freeland said. “There were days where I was like, This is it. I’m going to have to say goodbye to my daughter today; I don’t know how that didn’t happen.”

Vivienne was in the NICU for 135 days, Margot for 224 days and, between them, had 12 surgeries.

Freeland knows they wouldn’t be here without the remarkable team at Winnie Palmer.

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Nurse Andrea Maiorini and her team in the Level 3 NICU helped the twins overcome severe sepsis, countless codes and several setbacks. Their training and expertise gave these two a fighting chance.

“Luckily at Winnie Palmer and in our NICU, our neonatologist, they don’t believe in odds,” Maiorini said. “They believe in giving every baby a fair chance and trying to see what’s possible, and these babies overcame just everything that was thrown at them.”

Maiorini said, “They really are a testament to why it is important that we do what we do because not every hospital is even willing to try to save babies that are born at 22 weeks.”

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Most hospitals will only deliver a baby at 24 weeks because they don’t have the technology or level of care to help save a baby younger than that.

Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital provided that and more. In addition to all of this, Vivienne and Margot were cared for by these miracle workers during the start of the pandemic, so the family couldn’t be there to see the girls.

The NICU nurse showed the family an app that allowed Freeland’s family to meet the babies from a safe and virtual distance.

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“It works a lot like Snapchat,” Maiorini said. “We can take a picture of something that’s going on, send a little update and then send it to the parents through this app.”

Freeland said that connection gave her such peace to know what was going on, but the greatest peace she said is knowing her twins are home and healthy.

“They’re just crawling around like perfectly normal babies, like, it is outrageous,” said Freeland.

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