First-time parents Brandon Thomas and Kaitlin Yoder of Tumwater weren’t expecting to have their twins until January.
But babies Kora and Cullen began their entrance into the world Monday at Capital Medical Center in Olympia. They were born 16 weeks early by C-section and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma.
Cullen, who weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces at birth, suffered a bilateral brain bleed, and lived for 46 hours.
“If he had survived, he would have had severe cognitive and development issues, probably in a wheelchair and unable to speak or eat on his own,” Thomas told The Olympian.
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But his sister, Kora, born weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, is thriving more than anyone expected.
“She’s the strongest person I think I’ve yet to meet,” Thomas said. “All of the nurses are surprised with how much she moves. … She is extremely feisty.”
Brad Thomas of Tumwater described his new granddaughter as “about the size of your hand, maybe slightly larger. Very tiny.”
She opened one of her eyes for the first time Thursday.
“She’s doing good,” the grandpa said. “They’re putting some milk on a Q-tip and she sucks it off a Q-tip. They were thinking today (Friday) they might be able to take the breathing tube out and she might be able to breathe on her own.”
Brad Thomas has begun an online fundraiser to collect donations for the family’s medical and transportation expenses. Kora will likely spend the next four months at Tacoma General, family members said.
Brandon Thomas, who has a temporary job at the state Department of Fish & Wildlife that ends in November, said they plan to use some of the donations for Cullen’s memorial service and burial costs.
They haven’t had a chance to hold Kora yet. Cullen died in his mom’s arms.
“I was just cradling his head and we were just comforting him the best we could,” Thomas recalls.
Even though he’s had a tough first week of parenthood, Brandon Thomas, who grew up in Lacey and graduated from Timberline High School, said it’s been an incredible experience. He said he’s so proud of his son and daughter.
“As soon as I saw them … so much love and happiness washed over me, and they were the two most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life,” he said. “I just kind of instantly want to cry when I talk about it.”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433
How to help
For information on the fundraiser for the Thomas and Yoder family, go to: gofundme.com/preemie-thomas-twins-cullinkora