Millie and Scarlett's story | Action Medical Research

Millie and Scarlett's story

Very premature birth

Five-year-old Millie loves football, horse riding and swimming, but her favourite game is playing schools: “She likes pretending she’s a teacher. We have to be the kids and she orders us around!” says her mum Emma.

Millie, who was born at just 28 weeks, is also a loving child with a startlingly mature awareness of her twin sister Scarlett, who tragically died aged just one month.

“She knows about Scarlett. When we go to visit her grave, Millie is very sweet towards her and blows her kisses,” Emma says.

Pregnancy complications led to the girls being delivered by caesarean section three months too soon. Scarlett was born first weighing  just 1lb 6oz. Millie followed, weighing a tiny 1lb 4oz. Both babies needed help with breathing and, not ready yet for milk, were given fluids by tube into their tiny veins.

The babies were too fragile to be held, but Emma and her partner Dan could place their hands over their daughters’ heads. “It was so comforting,” Emma recalls.

At three weeks old, their medical team felt the babies could be moved to another hospital. Sadly, after this, Scarlett’s  health deteriorated rapidly. She contracted the deadly bowel condition nectrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and Emma and Dan faced the heartbreaking loss of their tiny daughter. Millie too contracted NEC but thankfully survived.

Now, aware of research funded by Action into causes of prematurity and devastating conditions such as NEC, Dan has thrown himself into fundraising for the charity.

“If the research wasn’t done, doctors wouldn’t have the knowledge that they do now, and the ability to treat tiny babies who are born prematurely or get conditions like NEC. It comes so quick, it’s a shock, and once it’s there it’s too late in many cases. We just hope research will find a way to stop it or catch it sooner,” he says.

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