Twins born at Mount Sinai become Guinness World Record holders thanks to expert care and their parents’ love.
When Shakina Rajendram and Kevin Nadarajah arrived at Sinai Health 21 weeks and six days into Shakina’s pregnancy, with Shakina showing signs of labour, they had no idea what the future held. They had been transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital because it’s one of the few hospitals in Canada equipped with the expertise to resuscitate babies born at just 22 weeks.
“At Mount Sinai, we were informed that resuscitation could not be done if the babies arrived before 22 weeks,” says Kevin. “And we were warned that, even if the babies survived, they could have disabilities affecting their quality of life.”
Just one hour after midnight at the 22-week mark, Shakina gave birth to Adiah, a girl, weighing 330 grams. Adiah’s brother, Adrial, followed 23 minutes later, weighing 420 grams.
Both babies were admitted to the Newton Glassman Charitable Foundation Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) right away. The unit was recently redeveloped as part of Renew Sinai and differs from other NICUs because each infant and their family stay in a private room. It’s a development that nearly all families have said they appreciated in what is often a stressful time in their lives.
What followed was close to six months of highs and lows. While the prognosis for the babies was guarded, especially in the early days, both Shakina and Kevin were hopeful about their children’s future.
The NICU’s family-integrated care model ensured that they fully participated in their babies’ care, guided and supported by a team of nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, social workers, pharmacists and dietitians.
After 161 days for Adiah and 167 days for Adrial, the twins were finally discharged home. Both were breathing on their own and eating without a feeding tube.
Recently, in addition to celebrating their first birthday, Adiah and Adrial have marked a more unusual milestone: recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records as both the lightest and the youngest born twins to see their first birthday. Their story was featured locally, nationally and internationally in media outlets such as The Globe and Mail, the BBC, CNN and People magazine.
It was a busy time, and while they were grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness for the type of expertise that Sinai Health offers and advocate for more of it, Shakina and Kevin are happy the media requests and engagement have slowed down so they can just enjoy being parents.
“We decided early on when they were in the NICU, we would always smile, laugh, sing and celebrate every milestone,” says Kevin. “I’m looking forward to more of that. To the babies sitting up, crawling, walking eventually.”
“I’m excited about being able to introduce them to more friends and family,” adds Shakina. “And I’m looking forward to the NICU picnic. We really, really miss all of the nurses and doctors and our social worker and all of the parents that we built amazing relationships with.”
Both Kevin and Shakina also want to find a way to give back to Sinai Health and the NICU community.
“It wasn’t just a place where we went and were treated and released,” explains Kevin. “When we were at Mount Sinai, we really felt that the medical system was on our side, caring for us as a family. They walked with us on our journey.”
PHOTOgraphy provided by the family