Kerry Carruthers from Trispen near Truro carried a dead twin in the womb to save her sister's life
IF EVERYTHING had gone to plan, Lucia Carruthers and her identical twin sister would have celebrated their second birthdays on Tuesday.
But Lucia's sister Maddison died in the womb – leaving mother Kerry Carruthers having to carry both babies to offer Lucia any chance of survival.
They were born at 30 weeks on January 2, 2011, and their mother bought a cot for one baby and a coffin for the other.
This week Kerry, who also has a 13-year-old son, Morgan, told of her endless joy mixed with "bittersweet" memories.
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Kerry, 32, from Trispen, was 25 weeks pregnant when one twin died following laser surgery in Bristol to correct twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
"My first thought was that I wanted to keep her," she said. "Even though I was shocked when I was told I'd have to carry her until I went into labour, I was also relieved. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.
"I had five weeks to come to terms with it and prepare for the emotions I was going to go through. I felt privileged to have more time to come to terms with my loss before she was born, and as my bump continued to grow I planned for a funeral and a birth."
Kerry, whose partner left during her pregnancy, had been searching for double prams and cots. "I spent the first week after Maddison died locked up in my bedroom sorting all the clothes out," she said. "It sounds morbid but it was just one of the things I was doing for my child.
"It was heartbreaking picking a coffin for one daughter and a cot for the other, but I still bought them the same blankets and teddies because I loved them equally."
Transfusion syndrome develops in roughly 15 per cent of identical twins who share a placenta in the womb. One gets too little blood and amniotic fluid, so cannot grow well.
"The midwives were amazing," Kerry said. "The babies were born at 3.20am and the midwife stayed on duty until the undertakers came at 8.30am. At both Treliske and Bristol we couldn't have had better care."
Although given only a one in 500,000 chance, Lucia was born healthy but with cerebral visual impairment; she sees the world in two dimensions.
Kerry said: "When I think of Maddison it's bittersweet; if Maddison hadn't died then Lucia would have died, undoubtedly."
Kerry is now involved in the Tiny Hands for Bliss campaign on the social networking site Facebook, which is raising money for premature babies.