22-Week Preemie Twins Go Home After Adorable ‘Graduation’


Babies Kimyah and DJ donned cute graduation togas in pink and blue during their ‘graduation’ at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. After 138 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the twins are finally discharged to go home.

At 22 weeks, Kimyah and DJ unexpectedly said hello to the world, to the surprise of their mom, Kimberly Thomas. The premature babies were given as little as 10% chance of survival, but Kimberly told the hospital to do everything they could to help her babies survive.

The twins had to be resuscitated and intubated after delivery on October 12, 2022 and immediately taken to intensive care. Kimyah weighed only 12 ounces while DJ was 15 ounces.  They were so small they could fit in the palm of an adult’s hand. The smallest diapers were too large for them.

Thinking about everything they’ve been through, it was hard to imagine us ever getting to this point. —Kimberly Thomas, mom of preemie babies Kimyah and DJ

“I saw Kimyah for a split second before she was taken to the NICU, and I just remember thinking, ‘No, she’s too small. She’s too small,'” said Kimberly.

Sara Perrin, RN, one of the NICU nurses, recalled, “These were the smallest babies I had ever seen, much less taken care of. I had to learn how to adapt to their size while caring for them. It was quite challenging.”

During the first month at the NICU, Kimberly and husband, Damante, weren’t allowed to touch the siblings because their skin were too sensitive and too fragile to touch. But, Kimberly spent every day and night at the NICU. She worked with Kimyah and DJ’s care team.

“Every morning I would get an update from the doctors on how they did overnight and what the plan for the day was,” said Kimberly. “I would then go into the NICU just to talk to my babies. I don’t think there was one day I didn’t spend at least a few minutes with them. I pretty much lived at the NICU for four-and-a-half months.”


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Premature babies are prone to many complications since their bodies are not yet fully developed. Kimyah had a small bleed in the brain and DJ suffered a lung collapse. Like a rollercoaster ride was how Kimberly described the twin’s stay at the NICU. But, she made sure to appreciate every progress of her kids.

Kimyah and DJ spent many holidays at the hospital. They had their first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day in the NICU. They got dressed up in matching clothes on each occasion. Finally, after 138 days, they’re finally going home.

On the day of the discharge, Kimyah and DJ’s care team prepared a graduation themed send-off party. Caregivers lined up in the hospital aisle, cheering and giving best wishes as Kimberly and her family made their way out of the hospital.

Nearing their 1-year birthday, Kimyah and DJ are catching up to their height and weight goals.

“Kimyah and DJ are very active and love exploring,” said the happy mom. “Thinking about everything they’ve been through, it was hard to imagine us ever getting to this point. You have to stay positive and focus on the outcome you want.”

Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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