A South Yorkshire mum is believed to have become the first in the world to give birth to live twins while undergoing kidney dialysis.
Sarah Pearce, aged 29, delivered a boy, Henley, and a girl, Harper, by emergency Caesarean section at Sheffield’s Jessop maternity wing – defying doctors who said she would never conceive because of the effects of her thrice-weekly treatment on her body.
Today, Sarah spoke to The Star of her joy at the arrival of the babies she thought she would never have – after more than a decade undergoing dialysis for serious kidney disease.
The twins were delivered 12 weeks early – Henley weighing 2lb 1oz and Harper just 1lb 14oz – and are both being looked after on a special care unit where they will remain until they have reached the full 40-week term.
Sarah told The Star she ‘can’t wait’ to take the new arrivals home.
“I was shocked at first when I found out I was pregnant, but I’m so happy they are here and well,” she said.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be a mum.”
Sarah, from Rawmarsh, Rotherham, was diagnosed with incurable kidney scarring, which affects her organs’ ability to filter waste from the blood when she was just six weeks old.
The disease left her tired and lacking energy and she was placed on the transplant list for a replacement kidney.
A match was found and Sarah was given a transplant aged 12 – but three-and-a-half years later medics discovered her body was rejecting the organ.
“The transplant meant I didn’t have to go on dialysis, but when my blood results came back and showed I was rejecting it I had to start it then,” she said.
At first she had to travel to Nottingham for dialysis at a children’s unit, then she started the treatment at Rotherham Hospital aged 21.
“It makes you feel very tired and run down,” Sarah said.
Usually she needs the treatment three times a week, but during her pregnancy doctors put her on daily dialysis.
Women with kidney failure are often advised against becoming pregnant because of the high rate of complications for the mother and developing baby.
Many women on dialysis have anaemia – a low red blood cell count – and hormone changes.
Two years ago, Sarah gave birth to a son, Karter, who was three months’ premature and weighed just more than one pound – but the tiny boy died after only four weeks.
Sarah said she went into a ‘deep depression’ after the heartbreaking loss.
The risk of a similar tragedy was deemed so high for Henley and Harper that doctors gave her the option of an abortion.
“I said no because I don’t believe in it, so they kept a close eye on me this time in case anything went wrong,” she said.
A week before the Caesarean, a scan showed Henley was not getting enough blood flow to his umbilical cord.
“I was scared it was happening again, but Harper helped a lot I believe – she helped Henley through it and told him to carry on because she is the stronger one.
“At the Jessop’s they couldn’t believe it was a normal conception – they’d never seen anyone like me before.”
The twins have been moved from Sheffield to Rotherham Hospital, where Sarah can easily visit them after her dialysis sessions.
“Henley has been on a ventilator and Harper is fine, she just needs to put more weight on,” she said. “They’ll be in the unit until they’re full term.
“I can’t wait until they can finally come home.”
In future Sarah could undergo another transplant, but it is a ‘matter of waiting’ for a further match to be found, she said.