A young mum has had an emotional reunion with the team from the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and Magpas Air Ambulance, who saved the lives of her twin boys against the odds after they were born prematurely at just 28 weeks gestation.
Molly Digby (24), and her partner James, visited Ampthill Ambulance Station with their twins, Archie and Jacob, seven months after their lives hung in the balance.
Molly was 28-weeks pregnant when her waters broke at her home in Leighton Buzzard, just after midday on 9th January 2023. Before she could dial 999 or alert her partner, she had given birth to her first child, Jacob, in the bathroom.
In shock, Molly dialled 999 where her call was answered by EEAST call handler, Nicholas Hall. Shortly afterwards, Molly’s second child, Archie, arrived still in the sac attached to the placenta. Nicholas talked Molly through what she needed to do to tear open the sac and start CPR on her baby.
Several EEAST crews and the Magpas Air Ambulance team urgently made their way to the scene, with newly qualified paramedic Cala Thornton and emergency medical technician Jon-James Smith arriving first—14 minutes after being dispatched.
Molly remembers how calm Nicholas was on the phone and believes his clear instructions, along with the first aid training she’d undertaken through her role in childcare, were vital for Archie and Jacob that day. Her ability to keep a cool head and follow his guidance amidst the turmoil was crucial for the twins’ survival.
Molly heard Archie take his first breath as Cala and Jon-James walked through her door, instantly relieving some of her stress and giving her a chance to call her partner, who was working 90 miles away.
Seconds after Cala and Jon-James arrived, emergency medical technicians Edward Davey and Megan Bunyard reached the scene, followed by paramedic Clive Gill and newly qualified paramedic Georgina Church. Ten minutes later, advanced paramedic in urgent care Steven Langridge arrived. He travelled 19 miles from Kempston to provide senior management on such a complex job with three time-critical patients.
The EEAST crews worked quickly in teams to care for the twins and Molly. They provided Archie with effective basic life support and kept Jacob warm and monitored his condition, in the room that was to be their nursery, while Molly—who’d lost a lot of blood—was cared for in the bathroom, being treated for pneumonia.
At this point, Archie’s heartrate began to increase from an extremely slow rate. However, his prognosis was still uncertain as he was so small, weighing just 570g.
Jacob was stronger, weighing 1.205kg, but he was still at risk and needed to be in a neonatal intensive care unit as soon as possible.
Due to the severity of the incident, the Magpas Air Ambulance team was requested to assist as the charity’s clinicians are able to provide hospital-level emergency care to patients, thanks to their extensive training and the additional skills and equipment they can bring to the scene. Magpas Air Ambulance Doctor Adriana Cordier and Critical Care Paramedic Steve Chambers arrived moments after the EEAST crews.
After assessing Molly and her babies and seeing what a great job the EEAST crew were doing, they planned to transport the twins in convoy to the specialist Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital. That way they could care for Jacob in the ambulance but be on hand to perform advanced intervention to Archie en route if needed on the other ambulance.
During the journey Jacob started taking a turn for the worse—he was unable to sufficiently breathe for himself and had started going blue. Adriana and Steve were able to put special measures in place to support his ventilation throughout, and fortunately both babies made it to the hospital.
The control room had pre-alerted the hospital that two extremely premature babies were en route. They set up two resuscitation stations in the hospital foyer with neonatal intensive care specialists ready to take over their care.
The twins spent nine and 16 weeks respectively in NICU and the Special Baby Care Unit, and the team were astonished to hear how well they both recovered.
Since that news, they’ve long wanted a chance to meet Molly, Archie and Jacob again, after what they describe as a job that will forever be etched in their memories.
“It was extremely emotional for all of us to meet the team who rushed to my flat that day and helped save Archie and Jacob.
“This was the first time we had seen the crews from the ambulance service and Magpas Air Ambulance since it happened, so emotions were running high for me, my partner James, and my mum, Jan.
“They filled in the blanks of what happened on the day and I will be forever grateful for what they did. Every day I look at Archie and Jacob, it makes me feel thankful to everyone who played a part in saving their lives.”
Magpas Air Ambulance Critical Care Paramedic Steve Chambers said:
“As a charity, we only get called to the most critically ill and injured patients in the region—so we knew Molly’s case was serious when we received the call.
"Incidents like this one are rare and complicated. Given the exceptional circumstances, it’s amazing to hear how well all three of them are doing now and Adriana and I are grateful to have been able to support with our skills on the day and play a part in the team that achieved a truly great outcome for our patients.”
Call handler Nicholas Hall said:
“Immediately after I came off the call, I was taken aback by how well Molly did on the phone in such exceptional circumstances.
“She was extremely brave and it was remarkable how she managed to keep a cool head with all the turmoil going on in front of her and follow my instructions.
“Without following my instructions, maybe the crews would not have been able to pull off what they did in getting the twins to the neonatal intensive care unit—it is a perfect example of the chain of survival with the early administering of CPR proving crucial.
“I remember saying to Molly on the phone that she was going to make an amazing mum and thankfully it has come to that with both twins.
“That was probably the worst call I could imagine getting but the best outcome I could have imagined—and easily the highlight of all my time working at EEAST."