Twins Kimyah and DJ are two of the youngest twins ever to survive premature birth at the Cleveland Clinic.
The twin siblings were born 11 months ago at 22 weeks. Kimyah and DJ were so small they could fit in the palm of an adult hand.
Their mom, Kim Thomas, said she found out when she was 21 weeks pregnant that she was four centimeters dilated – a sign that she may be going into labor.
"I was just scared," Thomas said.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said they did their best to stop Thomas' labor, since she was only about halfway to a full-term pregnancy with the twins.
"The odds of survival is very low," Dr. Firas Saker, the medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hillcrest Hospital, located in Mayfield Heights, OH, said of babies who are born that early.
But Thomas' labor continued and Kimyah and DJ were born on Oct. 12, 2022 at just 22 weeks and one day.
The youngest premature twins to ever survive were born just one day earlier, at 22 weeks, in March 2022, according to Guinness World Records.
At the time of their birth, Kimyah and DJ didn't even weigh a pound each, and they were rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.
"They said even if they do survive, it's not likely they'd make it the first three days," Damante Jackson, the twins' father, recalled of what doctors told the family.
"I felt like, I know they won't remember it, but it was hard for them," Thomas said.
Cleveland Clinic Children's staff said they had never worked with babies as small as Kimyah and DJ were then.
"They fit in the palm of my hand," a nurse named Rebecca said.
"Her [Kimyah's] extended hand actually wasn't even big enough to cover my thumbnail," said John Dickens, a neonatal respiratory therapist and a NICU cardiopulmonary supervisor at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hillcrest Hospital.
Kimyah and DJ had to overcome multiple issues -- from a collapsed lung to a brain bleed -- during their first few months, but their family said they never gave up hope on the twins.
"Almost New Year's, we were like, 'OK, we got this. That's when they finally got to meet each other,'" Thomas said.
The nurses at Cleveland Clinic also made sure to celebrate the twins' milestones with special photo shoots.
After 138 days in the NICU, Kimyah and DJ were finally healthy enough to go home on Feb. 27, making them officially the youngest surviving premature twins who were born at the Cleveland Clinic.
"Everyone showed up ... every doctor that worked on them, pretty much all the nurses that were there," Thomas recalled of the memorable day.
Dr. Saker remembered the day Kimyah and DJ was discharged, calling it "quite an emotional moment for us."
"I did have my doubts on day one that we would see that day so that made it that much more incredible when it came," nurse Sara added.
Today, Kimyah and DJ are doing great, according to their parents, and will turn one year old next month.