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Oklahoma City mom delivers twin girls on New Year’s Eve 2017 with assistance of OKC Fire Department and staff at INTEGRIS.

Premature Twins to Celebrate “Home Run for Life” with OKC Dodgers

Home Run for Life

The “Home Run for Life” series continues as the Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS partner to recognize twins Ellie and Kylie Santiago on Saturday, July 27 at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

New Year’s Eve often brings celebration mixed with nostalgia for the year coming to a close and anticipation for the year ahead. But New Year’s Eve 2017 brought so much more for Jerany Santiago of Oklahoma City. That was the day Santiago found out she was pregnant — with twins.

The evening brought more surprises, however, as just hours after finding out she was pregnant, Santiago unexpectedly delivered premature baby girls while home alone that night.

The babies were born more than three months premature, but thanks to emergency assistance from the OKC Fire Department and NICU staff at INTEGRIS Children’s at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, twins Ellie and Kylie beat the odds and are now thriving 1 ½ years later. 

The twin girls are learning to walk and talk. They love to play and tussle. One twin loves to dance while the other enjoys singing. “They are doing good,” Santiago said. “Their progress is excellent.”

New Year’s Eve brought bitter cold temperatures to central Oklahoma and unexpected news to Santiago. Via an ultrasound, she learned on Dec. 31, 2017 that she was about 5 ½ months pregnant. Her babies were born later that night at just 23 weeks gestation. For perspective, full-term babies are born closer to 36 weeks gestation. 

The twins’ lungs, brains and hearts were still forming when they came into the world, limiting their chances of survival. Ellie weighed 650 grams and Kylie weighed 760 grams at birth — or about 1 ½ pounds each. Santiago said the girls were so tiny, they could fit in the palms of her hands. 

She called 911 and Engine 15B with the Oklahoma City Fire Department was the first to arrive on scene. “They were so incredibly tiny and fragile looking,” Captain Travis Fryrear said about the twins. “We knew we had to get them to the NICU right away.”

Santiago remembers her babies’ initial purple appearance and the firefighters performing CPR on their tiny bodies. “They helped a lot because they gave us a chance,” Santiago said. Firefighter Timothy Radford held one of the babies in the ambulance en route to the hospital. “It was a very cold night and we knew the babies needed to be kept as warm as possible so we wrapped them in blankets and the mother and I held them close to our bodies for additional warmth,” Radford said.

The babies were rushed to the emergency room at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and quickly whisked away by the NICU staff at INTEGRIS Children’s. The firefighters left the hospital that night fearful the babies would not survive.

“It was touch and go for a while, it truly was,” says Kristi Cagle, one of the neonatal nurse practitioners at INTEGRIS Children’s who responded to the emergency room the night the girls were born. “The girls both required intense resuscitation including artificial ventilation and blood pressure support.”

The girls spent more than 100 days in the NICU before going home. Before they left, Santiago and the INTEGRIS Children’s staff invited the firefighters who helped on New Year’s Eve to the hospital to thank them for their service. 

“I wanted to hug their necks and let them see my babies,” Santiago said. “I wanted them to see for themselves how great they were doing and to tell them how grateful I am that they came to our rescue. That goes for the amazing staff at INTEGRIS, too. I got to take my babies home because I had a whole team of heroes on my side.”

The firefighters had another recent reunion with the twins and have enjoyed seeing how far Ellie and Kylie have come since their initial New Year’s Eve meeting in 2017. “It’s not very often that we get to see the progress of what we’ve been trained to do and see it work and then later on being able to see them growing and flourishing in life a year and a half later,” OKC Fire Department Corporal Nathan Vandervort said.