By Danika Dent
WHEN Eli and Luca were born at just 748gms and 1150gms respectively, doctors warned parents Ashlee and Nick Durand there was a high likelihood the twins wouldn’t survive, but at almost 11 months, they continue to improve.
However, they are by no means ‘in the clear’.
They will both continue to have serious health complications as they grow up.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” mum Ashlee Durand said.
“But they are doing really well.”
The twins are keeping Mum and Dad, Nick, busy: they’re working on eating solids, there’s weekly physio and occupational therapy sessions, daily
exercises, regular check-ups, a constant eye on the scales to ensure they continue to gain weight, and they currently have ‘irritable airways’, the hangover from a bronchial problem the family was hoping to get them immunised against.
“There was fundraising to get injections, but on the day of the fundraiser (Rock to Recovery on June 13), they caught the exact thing we were trying to get them immunised against,” Ashlee said.
With their compromised lungs due to chronic lung disease from being attached to ventilation machines, it’s a condition that will last until their lungs fully develop.
“They were sick but because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, they were sick for eight weeks.
“There was a lot of vomiting and their weight gain was dismal.”
The doctors decided immunising the boys (at a cost of $6000 per injection) wasn’t worthwhile – the damage was already done.
However, the prediction that a common cold could be fatal was thankfully disproved by the resilient twins.
In fact the twins are showing steady improvements.
Eli won’t require heart surgery in the near future, but it will be monitored continuously; however, he is due for surgery in September. It will be his seventh in under a year.
Luca, the larger twin is developing well, but surprisingly handled getting bronchiolitis worse than Eli.
“Maybe it’s because being sick is normal for Eli, I don’t know,” Ashlee said.
“But Luca wasn’t sleeping as well, he was clingy and fussy.
“Developmentally Luca’s going as well as is expected for his age – he’s nearly sitting up, which is what you’d expect for a seventh month old, corrected – that is, his age when he should’ve been born.
“Eli is very much behind. He’s a long way from sitting and he’s still not rolling over, but we are working on it and his neck strength has improved a lot.
“Eli just needs to be taught how to do things that other babies can do.”
With all this exercising, ongoing appointments, monitoring and the hectic life that is twins, and an energetic big sister Layla, the Durand household is busy.
Along with this activity, there has been a large financial burden on the young family; Ashlee returned to part time work two weeks ago.
All three children attend day care.
“The boys are all up to date with their immunisations and they’re regularly monitored and the doctors gave their approval,” Ashlee said.
“The thing was, Layla was bringing home whatever was going round anyway – so we just have to monitor their health closely.
“They’re very resilient boys.
“With everything that’s been thrown at them, they just get through it.”
Fundraiser on hold
Since the twins caught bronchiolitis, despite the family’s attempts to get them immunised on time, the Go Fund Me fundraiser website has been disbanded.
Money raised and donated by the community for the injections has been put in to a bank account, which is used to help the Durands with the twins’ ongoing expenses.
“At the start, costs were at least $300 to $400 a fortnight – that was for fuel, prescription formula, CityLink, medication and truckloads of nappies,” Ashlee said.
“One month we had a bill of $1000 just for CityLink.
“And a day at the Royal Children’s cost around $100 because there were specialists, petrol and parking.
“Now we’re down to about a couple of hundred a month.
“There’s still a lot of costs, like their medications, travel up to the city for specialists, physio; but whatever it is, if it’s going to help them, we’ll do whatever we can.”
Ashlee said the community’s ongoing support, from hampers left at the door, fuel vouchers and the incredible amounts raised for the injections, never failed to astound her.
“We have been blown away with the support and generosity from family, friends, the community and complete strangers!
“Never did we expect such support. It has been completely unexpected and from the bottom of our hearts we thank you!”