A grateful family of four from Somerset have raised over £1,050 for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity after asking for donations in lieu of gifts on their special joint wedding and christening day.  

Saturday 27 April was an extra special day for Sophie and Kevin Farnell, who tied the knot at St Mary’s Church in Woolavington, moments before their four-year-old twin daughters, Raegan and Roxanne, were christened. It was a day Sophie and Kevin feared they might not get to see when their daughters were born prematurely during the pandemic, at just 25 weeks.  

Sophie and Kevin were overjoyed to learn they were expecting twins but as Sophie’s pregnancy progressed, one of her fortnightly scans at her local hospital revealed that her babies were battling with a complication called Twin Anemia Polycythemia sequence, a form of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome which meant that Roxanne wasn’t receiving as much blood, oxygen or nutrients as Raega 

Sophie was referred to a more specialist hospital nearby for further tests but doctors made it clear that the twins’ chances of survival were slim. Not long after, Sophie was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia but in the height of the COVID pandemic, Sophie’s consultant was required to isolate and Sophie’s care was transferred to the specialist Fetal Medicine team at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, over 100 miles away. 

Sophie was due to undergo a procedure which would use a laser to correct the uneven blood flow between her twins but when she and Kevin arrived in Birmingham, doctors took one look at her and realised she was far too poorly. If Sophie and Kevin’s twins were to stand any chance of survival, they needed to be delivered quickly, so Sophie was prepared for an emergency c-section. 

The next day, Raegan and Roxanne were born, weighing 1lb 9oz and 1lb 5oz respectively, and were rushed straight to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Sophie and Kevin felt like their world had crashed down around them, but it went from bad to worse as Roxanne began to deteriorate rapidly and the specialist team broke the news to the new parents that there was nothing more that could be done – it was down to Roxanne to fight for her little life. Devastated, Sophie and Kevin called upon the hospital’s chaplain, who came to their bedside at close to midnight to bless Roxanne. 

Incredibly, Roxanne made it through the night, and while it was touch and go for both twins for the next few weeks, they both began to improve. Roxanne and Raegan spent the first five weeks of their lives at Birmingham Women’s Hospital before they were strong enough to be transferred to a hospital closer to home. In total, the twins spent 97 days in hospital but they were discharged just in time for Sophie and Kevin to take them home just before what should have been their due date.  

As a result of being born so prematurely, Raegan and Roxanne are under the care of multiple departments at various hospitals and are undergoing therapies to aid their slightly delayed development but both girls live their lives to the full.  

Following the perfect marriage proposal last year, Sophie and Kevin planned their wedding to take place at their local church and arranged for Raegan and Roxanne to be christened at the same time, with all their family and friends around them. It was the perfect opportunity to raise money to say thank you to the hospital for the care their family received. 

Sophie said: “When it came to asking for gifts at our special celebration we’d already got the best gift we could have asked for – our gorgeous girls – so we asked for donations for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity. 

Without the dedication, care, help and support this hospital provided us, our beautiful girls would not be with us today. We cannot thank all the consultants, doctors, nurses enough but also everyone who helped us with arranging accommodation away from home, the chaplain, porters, cleaners, catering team - it was all a massive team effort and we’re so grateful.” 

Miranda Williams, Director of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: It must have been incredibly upsetting and stressful for Sophie and Kevin to be so far away from home during such an ordeal but we’re so pleased to hear that through it all, they felt entirely supported by our brilliant specialist teams.  

“Asking for donations instead of gifts on such a special day for the Farnell family is truly humbling and the wonderful amount they raised with the help of their closest family and friends will go on to help us support more families just like theirs.