Kimyah and DJ, who spent over four months in Cleveland Clinic's NICU, are the hospital's youngest surviving premature twins
Kimyah weighed 12 oz. and DJ weighed 15 oz. when they were born at 22 weeks, the hospital said in a news release. At the time, the babies had a 10% to 20% chance of survival, while developmental delays were possible but unknown.
It was another scary moment for their mother, Kimberly Thomas. She knew something was wrong when she started leaking amniotic fluid, which cushions and protects the fetus during development in the uterus, before their birth, according to the hospital.
By the time she got to the hospital she was already four centimeters dilated.
Little DJ and Kimyah had to be resuscitated and intubated after the October 2022 delivery. The twins were then rushed into the NICU.
Mom Kimberly Thomas said she remembered thinking Kimyah was "too small" as she was whisked away to the NICU.
"Kimyah was around the size of a soda can, and DJ was slightly larger," according to the hospital's news release. Nurses were even able to hold them together in the palm of their hands.
Dr. Firas Saker, the medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, said that mom wanted doctors to do "everything we could for her twins," per the hospital.
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Damante Jackson, the babies' father, told Good Morning America that doctors told them that if the twins survived, it wasn't likely they would "make it the first three days." Even if DJ and Kimya don't remember it, "it was hard for them," he added.
Thomas spent every night in the NICU after they were born, the hospital shared. She couldn't even hold them for a month because their skin was fragile.
"I would then go into the NICU just to talk to my babies," she said. "I don't think there was one day I didn’t spend at least a few minutes with them."
Saker said he believes Kim's involvement was important to their development and helped them "overcome their obstacles."
Thomas said their stay in the NICU had many ups and downs, including when Kimyah had a minor brain bleed and DJ had a lung collapse.
However, the family remained optimistic and celebrated each milestone, from Thanksgiving to baby showers.
Finally, after 138 days, the babies were finally ready to go home. Thomas told GMA that everyone came to show their support.
There were still some challenges for the twins after their stay, the hospital noted. According to Thomas, Kimyah and DJ "needed to remain on oxygen since their lungs were so underdeveloped," and she also needed to check their blood oxygen saturation levels.
The babies wore pink and blue caps and gowns as part of a graduation ceremony from the hospital. As the family made their way out, the staff filled the hallways and cheered.
Saker told GMA that it was an "emotional" moment for hospital staff, while one nurse admitted she doubted "that we would see that day," which made the experience even more "incredible."
The doctor said the babies are doing well and are being monitored, though it will be years before they can tell if the twins will have any developmental delays, according to the hospital.
Now, with the twins nearing their first birthday, their mom told the hospital that Kimyah and DJ are "trying to do everything by themselves."
“Kimyah and DJ are very active and love exploring," their mom said, noting that their journey taught her a very valuable lesson: "You have to stay positive and focus on the outcome you want."
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