A COUPLE have praised the support from the Sick Children’s Trust after one of their premature twin girls survived.

Ashley and Mitchell Simons, from Basildon, had been trying for a baby for four years. They were elated when they finally fell pregnant.

Mrs Simons, 33, who works as a teacher, went into labour at just 24 weeks, and gave birth to twin girls on January 20 this year.

Tragically she lost one of her daughters, Esme, but her other twin Isla battled for survival and made it home after 138 days in hospital and will be spending her first Christmas at home with the family this year.

Mrs Simons said: “Just 24 weeks into my pregnancy, I went into premature labour.

“The longed-for twins – that I had battled for four years to conceive – were on their way.

“Terrified, my partner raced me to Basildon University Hospital where doctors immediately pumped me full of magnesium sulphate to try to halt the labour.

“They also gave me a steroid injection, which would improve the twins’ lung function and hopefully save their lives.

“The neonatal team prepared us for the worst.

“Deep down I knew I was going to lose a baby.

“Despite their best efforts the labour couldn’t be stopped and Esme Sârka Simons was stillborn weighing just 1lb 5oz.

“She was the most beautiful and perfect little girl I had ever seen.

“Around 64 minutes later, Isla Lenka Simons arrived weighing 1lb 4oz and was immediately raced up to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“Esme saved her sister’s life the night she was born.

“She planted herself in the birth canal before I got to the hospital and was given the drugs, which gave Isla time to absorb what had been administered.”

Isla was transferred to the Royal London Hospital for lifesaving treatment, which is where she would spend the next five months growing stronger.

Mrs Simons said: “Before Mitchell and I went to join Isla, I held Esme for the last time. As I looked out of the window, with my first born child in my arms, it started to snow and I began to sing ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ from the film ‘Frozen’ to my baby.

“It was heartbreaking yet felt so beautiful.”

After commuting between Basildon and London for three days, the couple were given a room to stay in at Stevenson House near the neonatal unit, provided by The Sick Children’s Trust.

Esme’s funeral was on February 5, when the couple made the decision to vacate the room to allow other families to use it and head home for the comforts and support of their family

On July 7, Isla was transferred back to Basildon before being sent home after 138 days with oxygen support.

The couple have since set up a website and Facebook page called “Isla’s Journey” to comfort and support parents of premature babies.

Mrs Simons added: “Since being home we have been through more ups and downs. Because of her prematurity Isla still has some problems.

“She suffered a bleed on the brain at birth and has chronic lung disease, but amazingly is already oxygen free – a huge milestone.

“I am so proud of my amazing daughter. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, experiencing flashbacks of the day the girls were born and the tragedy of losing Esme.

“At times I have felt anxious with Isla because her start to life was so shaky, but we are getting there and Isla’s smile melts my fears away. Despite our traumatic journey together Mitchell and I are determined some good can emerge from our sorrow and we could not be prouder of Isla and how strong she has been.

“We will continue to support The Sick Children’s Trust and are raising as much money and awareness as we can to help them continue their vital work.”

The Sick Children’s Trust provides free “home from home” accommodation to families with seriously ill children in hospital in the UK, costing £30 for supporting a family for one night.

The charity aims to make a future where every family with a seriously ill child in hospital will be able to stay together.

Visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org.