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Girl Born 95 Days After Twin Brother

January 19, 1995

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Celeste Keys slept quietly in her mother’s arms a few hours after being born, reunited with the twin brother who entered the world 95 days earlier.

Celeste’s arms were curled up to her chest. Timothy’s were straight out in front, his fingers spread.

``He always has his hands out,″ said their mother, Simone Keys. ``We just say he’s praising God all the time.″

The Keys praise God, too _ and their doctors. Not only did Timothy survive a difficult, premature birth, but Celeste’s birth was delayed until she could be delivered at full term Wednesday.

The twins are expected to go home together Friday.

``It’s just a miracle,″ said the twins’ father, the Rev. Thomas Keys.

The 95 days between births is the longest period in which all babies in a multiple pregnancy survived, according to doctors at Ochsner Foundation Hospital who delivered Timothy and Celeste.

The previous record _ 56 days _ was for twins born in 1953 to a woman with a double uterus. A Canadian woman carrying triplets had a Caesarean delivery 99 days after the first child was born, but only the third survived.

Celeste, who weighs nearly 6 pounds, outweighs her older twin by three-quarters of a pound. She’s healthier, too: She doesn’t need a breathing monitor like her brother, and she’s not at risk of such problems as learning disorders and mild cerebral palsy.

Timothy’s hospital bills are $225,000. Celeste’s are $850.

``You can imagine these kids 10 years later _ `He’s my twin but he was born in 1994 and I was born in 1995, three months later.′ That’s the kind of `Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ part of it,″ said Jay Goldsmith, one of the doctors who resuscitated Timothy after his vaginal birth Oct. 15.

Although the Keys’ 4-year-old son, Thomas III, was born without problems, the couple had known this pregnancy might be more difficult. Mrs. Keys had a history of high blood pressure, a heart rhythm irregularity and childhood rheumatic fever, all of which can complicate pregnancy _ as can twins.

Doctors wanted to prevent a premature birth, but Mrs. Keys went into labor Oct. 11 without realizing it and taught a full day of 10th- and 11th-grade English.

``The whole day, all of my students were telling me I was in labor,″ she said. ``I kept saying, `Y’all don’t know what you’re talking about.′ ... By the time I got to the hospital for my appointment, I had been in labor all day.″

Doctors were able to delay Timothy’s birth only a few days. He weighed 1 pound, 14 ounces and had to breathe through a tube in his throat.

While Goldsmith and his team kept Timothy alive, other doctors worked to keep Celeste in the womb.

Drugs quieted Mrs. Keys’ contractions and the delivery table was upended so her head pointed to the floor. Dr. Douglas Montgomery trimmed Timothy’s umbilical cord as close as possible to the mouth of the womb, then stitched the cervix closed.

``After Timothy came out, Dr. Montgomery said, `Nothing’s happening,″ Keys said. ``I said, `What do you mean, nothing’s happening?′ That’s when he told us we could try this procedure.″

It was weeks before Mrs. Keys was taken off the last of the drugs to prevent labor. She went home in November but made weekly visits to a doctor, and got weekly visits from another medical team. Timothy stayed in the hospital and was on a breathing machine for seven weeks.

In the 1970s and ’80s, doctors felt that it was best to deliver all babies at once from a multiple pregnancy.

``We don’t think that way any more,″ said Dr. Al Robichaux, Mrs. Keys’ obstetrician. ``Now what is important is that the closer a baby can come to term, the healthier it will be.″

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