In 1995, when twins Kyrie and Brielle Jackson were born 12 weeks prematurely in a Worcester, Massachusetts, hospital, the would-be celebration quickly turned into a life or death emergency. Just when one of the twins began to fade, a nurse on staff came up with an unexpected solution in the nick of time…
There is simply no greater news for hopeful parents than to find out they’re expecting! From that point forward, all their energy is shifted to focusing on their children being born healthy, happy, and free of all complications.
So in 1995, when Paul Jackson and his wife learned they were expecting twins girls, they were elated, to say the least. While the typical pregnancy term is 40 weeks, the expecting mother was shocked when she went into labor prematurely at just 28 weeks.
After rushing to the hospital, the Jacksons learned that there was, unfortunately, nothing the doctors could do to slow down the birth process. Once their twin daughters, Kyrie and Brielle, were born, the family’s otherwise joyous occasion quickly transformed into a life or death emergency…
The Jacksons were thankful that one of their twins, Kyrie, was doing just fine. Over the next several days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unite (NICU), she seemed to be eating and gaining weight. Sadly, the same could not be said of Brielle.
Not only was Brielle having a difficult time breathing, but she wasn’t feeding or gaining any weight like her sister. As they continued to monitor her in the NICU, the doctors hoped she would gain an appetite, but nothing seemed to change at all.
The doctors in the NICU closely monitored both babies for three weeks. All the while, Paul and his wife held out hope they would get to bring their little girls home sooner than later.
Tamaki Sono Flickr
“The nurses in the NICU were very honest. And they told me up front that ‘things look pretty good now, but to be honest with you, over the next 48 to 72 hours, things could turn very quickly,’” Paul said in an interview.
Then, during the third week, things took a frightening turn. Suddenly, Brielle’s heart rate increased, her breathing became labored, and her oxygen levels dropped significantly. The new parents became incredibly worried that the worst possible scenario was about to occur.
In that moment, Brielle’s complexion became blue, a telltale sign that she wasn’t receiving enough oxygen. Even just a small lack of oxygen can cause brain damage, but it can cause other vital organs to stop functioning, too.
A team of doctors tried everything in their power to get Brielle to breathe, but nothing seemed to be working. As emergency workers scrambled to figure out their next plan, Gayle Kasparaian, an NICU nurse, came up with an unusual idea.
During all the commotion, Gayle realized that, as twins, the girls’ connection was deeper than most children’s. So in a moment of unexpected genius, she decided to place them in an incubator together to see how Brielle would respond.
It was then that Gayle realized she’d made a great decision. Not a second later, Kyrie placed her arm around Brielle as if to protect her. At three weeks old, there was no way she was aware of the power of a hug from a loved one; it was clear she was reacting with pure instinct.
No one in the room, including the emergency doctors, could believe what they were seeing. As Kyrie kept her arm around her twin sister, the nurses continued to monitor their vitals. That was when everything began to change…
Brielle had suddenly begun to breathe in a normal pattern without any outside assistance. It looked as though Gayle’s idea had worked and Kyrie’s touch had seemingly brought her twin sister back to normal! From that point on, Kyrie’s heart rate and temperature were stable.
While Gayle’s spur-of-the-moment idea wasn’t well-known in the United States at that point, it was actually a fairly common technique around the world dubbed kangaroo care. “Kangaroo care refers to the act of placing your newborn on your chest—skin to skin. It’s good for you and it’s good for baby,” reported the Akron Children’s Hospital on their website.
Most doctors agree that skin to skin contact is essential for newborns. “Numerous studies have documented the benefits of kangaroo care. They include improved heart rate, oxygen saturation, breathing, sleep, weight gain, breastfeeding, and reduced crying,” the ACH report continued.
New parents are often instructed to place their babies on their bare chests to allow them to reap these benefits. “Research has also found positive associations with cognitive and motor skills, and psychosocial benefits, such as attachment and parental confidence,” the ACH reported.
Once the benefits of kangaroo care began to work for Brielle, the Jacksons were finally able to relax. Not long after, the parents finally received word that they could bring their daughters home for the first time. As they grew happy and healthy, so did their bond. They were practically inseparable!
Now in their early twenties, both Brielle and Kyrie are thriving and continue to be the best of friends. They’re proof that the power of family—and a simple hug—can often be enough to overcome any possible obstacle standing in your way!
Even though the day did not go as planned, the Jacksons were eventually able to bring their children home and give them the happy and healthy lives they’d always hoped they could provide them.
Sometimes the best solutions to life’s problems are as simple as a touch. Without Gayle’s quick thinking, there’s a chance Brielle wouldn’t have survived.