Twenty years ago, it wasn’t common for babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit to be handled, much less share an incubator. At the time, the medical community thought premature babies might be too fragile and delicate. But one nurse changed all of that.
Back in 1995 in Worcester, Mass., Paul Jackson’s twin daughters had been born 12 weeks premature and, although he had been warned that things could quickly take a turn for the worse, the twins seemed to be in stable condition.
Three weeks later, though, one of the twins began to struggle. Barely able to breathe, her heart rate soared, her oxygen level began to drop, and she even turned blue.
One of the NICU nurses, Gayle Kasparian, had an idea to do something that, at the time, was only being practiced in Europe, but hadn’t been done yet in the U.S. She suggested they take the stronger twin, Kyrie, and place her inside the incubator with her sister Brielle. The result was nothing short of a miracle.
Within seconds, Kyrie shifted and put her tiny arm around her sister. Brielle, who was fighting for her life, instantly began to stabilize. Her heart rate and breathing returning to normal.
That sweet moment made history when a newspaper photographer, who just happened to be at the hospital, snapped a picture of the twins’ embrace.
The inspiring image, which showed the healing power of touch, became known as the “Rescuing Hug” and appeared in Life magazine and Reader’s Digest.
Had it not been for that split second decision to place the twins together, doctors may have never discovered the incredible benefits of skin-to-skin contact. Now, premature babies are routinely handled in this way, known as “Kangaroo Care,” some as young as 23 weeks old.
Kyrie and Brielle are all grown up now thanks to that nurse whose idea led to a hug that forever changed the way premature babies are cared for.
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