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UNIT HAS BEEN "OUT OF THIS WORLD".

ESTELLA Lawrence-Denholme found herself needing the support of the special care baby unit when her twin daughters Ellie-Mae and Erin were born three months early.

With premature babies normal with multiple births, Estella and husband Iain from South Shields ended up spending eight weeks at the unit supported by staff and the Tiny Lives Trust.

Despite being healthy weights for premature twins, Erin at 2lb 7oz and Ellie-Mae at 2lb 5oz, Ellie-Mae tragically died after being diagnosed with Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease infecting the bowel.

Estella, 41, who also has four-year-old daughter Ruby, said: "48 hours after Ellie-Mae died, Erin was diagnosed with the same condition.

"Luckily it was caught in time and when she was two weeks old she had 25cm of her bowel removed.

"The twins were meant to be born on September 15 but they were 12 weeks premature and born on June 27, 2012.

"Despite being so early and my size they were both good weights. We were originally transferred to James Cook hospital and then to Leeds with Ellie-Mae's infection.

"Words cannot describe what we were going through. We knew it was happening but you are just in a daze. You are going through it but it is like it's not real.

"It has been an awful 18 months.

"The unit has been out of this world along with the support we were given by Tiny Lives.

"Everything we needed they supported us with. From little things like car parking, to housing and beds until we could move into Crawford House, to counselling and helping Ruby feel involved.

"Until you need to use the unit and the fund, I never really understood the full extend of what they did and the support they offer, but it is fantastic, which is why we have been raising money for the trust.

"Last year we raised PS6,500 and we will start again in January."

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Estella Lawrence-Denholme with her daughter Erin
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 20, 2013
Words:326
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