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- Harley and Archie Garthwaite were born in the 23rd week of the pregnancy
- They defied the odds, becoming one of the youngest sets of premature twins to have survived in Britain
- Harley has spent almost six months in hospital
- Archie was discharged in October
By Alex Ward
PUBLISHED: 12:59 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 14:26 EST, 7 December 2012
Twin boys born 17 weeks premature have finally been allowed to go home from hospital after becoming one of the most premature sets to have survived in Britain.
Little Harley Garthwaite has joined his twin brother Archie at the family home in Hartlepool, Cleveland, after spending almost six months at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton because his lungs were weaker than his brother’s.
Their mother Hayley Kennedy, 20, and father Billy Garthwaite say they now feel ‘complete’ that their family has been reunited.
Family 'complete': Twins Archie (left) and Harley (right) Garthwaite were born 17 weeks premature and now after Harley spent almost six months in hospital, they are together again at the family home
Harley has spent his life so far in the neo-natal ward while Archie was discharged from hospital in October, aged about four-months-old.
Archie and Harley defied medical odds when they were born in the 23rd week of the pregnancy weighing just 1lb 4oz and 1lb 6oz each respectively, making them one of the most premature sets of twins in the country to survive such a premature birth.
The precious pair clung to life despite both having holes in their tiny hearts.
Archie underwent gruelling open heart surgery at just two-weeks-old with Harley following two weeks later.
Medics also operated on both to correct bowel problems, performed laser treatment to stimulate their underdeveloped eyes and put them on ventilators and oxygen to help them to breathe.
Little miracle: Harley has spent his life so far in a hospital neo-natal unit because his lungs were weaker than his brother's. The twins underwent open heart surgery among other procedures to defy the odds
They are still on oxygen and their parents have to keep a supply of gas canisters with them, even when they go out in the pram.
Ms Kennedy said: ‘It was absolutely fabulous bringing him home. I cried.
‘It's just amazing to have them both together and we still can't believe we have them both after we thought we were going to lose them.
‘It was just so emotional leaving the hospital after everything the staff have done for them. We can't thank them enough.
‘But on the other hand we now feel like a proper little family and I feel like a proper mam.
‘I didn't feel like a proper mam when he was in hospital because I wasn't there for him 24/7.
'Thought we were going to lose them': The twins at home with mother Hayley Kennedy and father Billy Garthwaite who say that the boys now sleep much better now that they are back together
‘We'd go to see him at the hospital for an hour or so and then have to go home. It was hard.’
Ms Kennedy said the brothers were so much more content now they have been reunited and both wake up at exactly the same times for feeds.
The hairdresser said: ‘Archie sleeps so much better now Harley's home. He used to cry constantly, but now Harley's home he sleeps perfectly.
‘They both get up every night at 3am and 6am for their bottles. I feel as though they know they're together, definitely.’
The twins are getting bigger and stronger every day with Archie weighing 8lb 10oz and Harley 9lb 5oz.
The couple met on Facebook in November last year and have been together 12 months.
Recent research found that survival rates for babies born between 22 and 25 weeks have risen overall since 1995.
The survival of extremely premature babies has also increased, but the proportion of survivors with major complications has not changed.