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Blood Transfusions for Babies: The Handy Family Story

The twins of Earl and Alexis Handy needed numerous blood transfusions after being born about 10 weeks premature.

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Nicholas and Genevieve Handy are your typical twins.

Their typical morning starts with breakfast at their dad's food establishment, Handy's Lunch.

Their parents, Earl and Alexis Handy, say they have typical kid interests. Nicholas loves numbers and ninjas. Genevieve likes sheriffs and doctors.

They do typical five year old things like taekwondo.

But their arrival into this world started with a fight for their lives.

“When Genevieve was first born my wedding ring fit over her wrist like a bracelet,” Earl Handy said.

Nicholas and Genevieve were born about 10 weeks premature. They came into this world a combined four pounds and 24 inches.

“You just had to go in everyday and hope they'd come home,” Alexis Handy said.

When the handy twins were born after just 28 weeks they went to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“Certainly the Handy's were really special people but we feel that way about all our families,” Dr. Bob Pfister said.

Dr. Pfister is the attending physician at the NICU. Part of the care he provided for the Handy family was blood transfusions to Genevieve and Nicholas.

“We typically are really trying to increase their oxygen carrying capacity and that's the primary function of the blood transfusions,” Dr. Pfister said.

“You'd see just all of her vitals go up,” Alexis Handy said referring to Genevieve.

The NICU gives about 200 transfusions a year, the equivalent of 99 donations. Genevieve had six and Nicholas four.

Five years later the Handy’s still think about their three months spent in the NICU.

“We're five. We've been there. And it's all going be ok,” Earl Handy said.

It’s why they've hosted blood drives for the Red Cross, trying to give every baby in the NICU a fighting chance.

To learn about when and where you can donate blood, visit the Red Cross website.

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