It’s a story you may have heard because it took place over 20 years ago, but it taught U.S. doctors an important lesson after they witnessed “the hug that helped change medicine.”
The story of Brielle and Kyrie Jackson has nearly achieved urban legend status (in fact, it was even investigated by Snopes), but the loving touch of one twin helping the other is absolutely true.
It all started on October 17, 1995 when Brielle and Kyrie were born to Heidi and Paul Jackson – weighing a mere 2 pounds each – at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA. Like most twins, they were born early, but these girls arrived 12 weeks before their due date!
Let’s remember just how much medicine has changed since then – 24 years ago these babies didn’t have the benefit of the technologies we do today in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). They two spent 2 months in the hospital before they were able to go home.
While Kyrie managed to put on weight relatively quickly, her sister Brielle was struggling. Her parents and nurses recounted her crying and gasping for air, leaving her tiny body wracked with sobs and her little face blue from not getting enough oxygen.
On Brielle’s worst day, at 3 weeks old, nurses were concerned about her rapidly rising heart rate and shallow breathing. All the medical interventions they tried failed to make a difference.
That’s when a NICU nurse named Gayle Kasparian decided to go beyond traditional medicine.
Unfortunately, all the holding and soothing both she and the twins’ parents tried at first didn’t work either.
At the time, the hospital’s policy was to keep all babies in separate incubators to reduce the risk of infections, but Kasparian asked the parents if it would be ok to put the twins together.
When they said yes, no one could imagine the effect that putting the girls side-by-side could have on little Brielle’s condition, or the impact it would make on premie care going forward.
When Kyrie was placed next to Brielle in her incubator, the stronger twin instinctively threw her tiny arm over her sister. After all, the two had shared a womb for six months and had been separated since birth, so it’s possible both had been feeling the loss of the other.
This sweet photo has been shared millions of times around the world. It just so happened that a photographer named Chris Christo was in the hospital at the time and snapped the pic for the local Telegram & Gazette.
But the most incredible part is that as soon as the girls touched again, little Kyrie’s heart rate and breathing stabilized and her body temperature returned to normal.
This moment and its viral photo are credited with showing doctors in the U.S. something that the rest of the world had long known – that regardless of the amount of technology and medical intervention at one’s disposal, sometimes nothing is more powerful than simple human touch.
Skin-to-skin contact, or “kangaroo care,” is now common in the U.S., especially in the NICU where it has been shown to keep babies warm, help regulate their breathing, and improve their sleep. It’s a simple solution with a huge impact – nothing a machine can replicate.
As for the Parker family, everyone is thriving.
Now in their 20s, the girls have been the subject of news stories throughout their lives. They’ve often Googled their own story when they need a reminder of just how lucky they are.
Here they are as teens, looking happy and healthy, both successfully taking high school honors classes with no hint of their dramatic birth story.
There are photos floating around of the Parkers as adults that Brielle has claimed are not of her and her sister. The most recent photos of the twins can be found on their Facebook pages.
Brielle is getting a Master’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Nevada Reno.
And Kyrie is working towards a Masters in social work at Western New Mexico University.
Their mother Heidi’s life was changed as well by the ordeal. While she had never been interested in medicine before, after the twins were born she attended nursing school and is now an ER nurse.
Because the story is so uplifting, it’s been overdramatized on the Internet over the years (with rumors of Brielle being near death and Kasparian having to fight the hospital to break rules in order to put the twins together – neither of which are true), but the story above is the version clarified recently by all the parties involved.
And the true story is just as special as any dramatization.
Scroll down to see a CNN report on the twins’ and an uplifting interview with their father from their high school days.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Source: The Telegram