Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Hercules transfer twins 'stable'

The twins, a boy and a girl, were born three months prematurely in Stornoway

Twins born prematurely on a Scottish island are said to be in a stable condition after being transferred to the mainland on an RAF Hercules.

The mother went into labour at 27 weeks and gave birth to the babies, a boy and girl, in hospital in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, on Sunday night.

Medics worked through the night to stabilise the twins before the flight to a hospital in Glasgow.

The Hercules aircraft had to be brought in due to snow and high winds.

Consultants from the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow, who were flown out to Stornoway by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter, travelled with the twins.

Dr Lesley Jackson, a consultant at the hospital, explained why the team drafted in the help of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Because of forecasts of snow and high winds we didn't feel it was safe to fly to the mainland
Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman
She said: "It quickly became apparent, because of the very poor weather conditions, that going by air ambulance would not be possible.

"As such we then liaised with the MoD and the MoD from Prestwick were able to take the team up in a Ministry of Defence helicopter, but due to worsening weather were unable to take the return journey back down to Glasgow.

"The team spent many hours stabilising the babies in Stornoway and a Hercules was then used to make the return journey back down to Glasgow."

Dr Jackson said she expected a good outcome for the babies, who were being cared for by a dedicated neonatal team.

She said: "They are currently stable and obviously we will take each day at a time. The babies will probably be in hospital until around their due date, which is about another 10 to 11 weeks."

Medical emergency

She added that the mother and father of the twins were due to travel from Stornoway to Glasgow on Monday afternoon.

The Hercules flight left Stornoway at 0540 GMT arrived at Glasgow Airport at about 0630 GMT. The twins were then taken by ambulance to the hospital, arriving at about 0700 GMT.

According to the Scottish Ambulance Service, the woman gave birth at the Western Isles Hospital.

Map showing Stornoway and Glasgow

A spokesman said: "We received a call at about 6.30pm last night that a 27 weeks pregnant female was having a twin birth.

"It is my understanding that the twins were born late last night.

"We sent two consultants to Stornoway in the Sea King [helicopter]. But because of forecasts of snow and high winds we didn't feel it was safe to fly to the mainland."

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that a Hercules had been scrambled to Stornoway "to assist in a medical emergency".

It arrived shortly after 0230 GMT and was on standby for the transfer flight.

Michael Mulford from RAF Kinloss said the weather in the Hebrides was very wild and windy.

Speaking about the medical evacuation he said: "The normal way of evacuating two babies would be to put them in an air ambulance, a fixed wing. But I think the wind is just beyond the margin so what we did was, we got the duty Hercules to fly up from Lyneham."

Hercules aircraft have been used several times in recent years for baby transfers but it is thought to be the first time that twins have been involved in a flight of this kind.

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