Mom Christine Ashton holds her seven-month-old twins Thaddeus and Quinntin Ashton

Mom Christine Ashton holds her seven-month-old twins Thaddeus and Quinntin Ashton

Defying the odds

'Micro-preemie' Surrey twins born the length of a pencil at 23 weeks not only survive, but thrive.

Their names are Thaddeus Ison and Quinntin Ouran, fraternal twin boys with big names to match their growing personalities.

Holding the now seven-month-old babies nicknamed Mister T and Master Q it’s difficult to fathom that at birth they were about the length of a pencil.

Born at 23 weeks (four months early), Quinntin, the larger of the two, weighed 570 grams (1.3 pounds) while his brother was 405 grams (0.9 pounds) small enough to be cupped in their father’s hand.

“Every day I’m so amazed at their progress,” says first-time mom Christine Ashton. “It’s a total miracle.

Last October, she was into the second trimester of what had been a “normal” pregnancy when she started to feel sick and got a headache. When the on-and-off pain didn’t subside, she called a relative who had three children of her own. The description sounded a lot like labour pain and she rushed Ashton from her home in North Surrey to Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) 15 minutes away. Her babies weren’t due until February.

Ashton was immediately hospitalized and given medication to slow labour, and more than one doctor came to her room to warn her the odds of her babies surviving weren’t good. Very few twins are born at 24 weeks in Canada each year and the statistics are even lower for twins born at 23 weeks, like hers.

“It was way too soon,” she remembers. “I just wanted them to stay inside me. Every day I’d be curled up in a ball, praying.

But within three days, she had an emergency Caesarean section and her so called “micro-preemies” entered the world.

Thaddeus was the first out. He cried immediately and the doctor was able to show him to Ashton. Quinntin, however, was in distress and was whisked away for further medical attention. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that she was able to see both of her baby boys, which brought both relief and concern.

“I was kind of in shock,” she says. “I wondered, ‘how does a baby that small survive?’

Seven months later, she knows.

The care her precious preemies received in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at RCH was life-saving, she says, from the expert staff to the state-of-the-art equipment.

Both her boys spent time on ventilators, including what’s called a jet ventilator, which increases the respiratory rate more gently than a standard ventilator. The RCH Foundation was only recently able to purchase two jet ventilators, one thanks to the TB Vets Charitable Foundation, and the other through contributions from various donors.

After 188 days in hospital, Ashton and her husband were allowed to take the boys home on the Easter weekend, happy to welcome the start of their new life, but frightened to leave the security of the hospital.

“I was crying because I was sad (to say goodbye to the staff) and scared because I knew I didn’t have all the nurses there to help me,” says the new mom.

Quinntin is now 11 pounds, eight ounces, while Thaddeus is slightly smaller at 11 pounds, 3 ounces.

Quinntin, who has a chronic lung condition and a heart condition, remains on oxygen, while Thaddeus has a feeding tube to boost his milk intake. But both are otherwise healthy and exhibiting normal development for their age which, had they been born on their due date, would only be three months. At-home nurse assistance will continue daily for about a year.

Both arms full with her squirming boys, Ashton smiles, knowing how fortunate she was to celebrate her first Mother’s Day with them last weekend.

“I’m so proud of them.




Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey’s Kevin McAlpin is hoping to reunite this 50-year-old wedding ring with its rightful owner. (Contributed photo)
Owner of 50-year-old wedding band found near Peace Arch Park sought

Recovered ring ‘is important to somebody,’ says finder

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council earmarks $1.8M in grants for community groups

Councillor Laurie Guerra says it’s ‘essential’ given damage done by pandemic

Screen shot from the SOS Children’s Village BC webpage for their “Big Hearts Open Doors” fundraising appeal. SOS is also currently running a Christmas gift-card drive to help at-risk youth this Christmas. (Image via
SOS Children’s Village BC launches annual Christmas gift-card drive

SOS collecting gift cards and donations for Surrey’s at-risk youth

Surrey protesters wearing their blue “bubble” suits. (Submitted photo)
OUR VIEW: Shut down strange Surrey protest

Unfortunate neighbourhood under siege for 12 weeks and counting

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read