Samuel and Reid Kiper’s homecoming was long-awaited and hard-won. The twin boys, now nearly five months old, have overcome heart-breaking odds of survival to get where they are today - at home in their parents’ arms.
“They’re little fighters,” said their grandmother, Beverly Kiper, of Leitchfield, who gushed with pride over her tiny grandsons.
Beverly explained that the journey has been a very difficult one for the boys and their parents, Jacob and Holly Kiper, of Owensboro.
At just 21 weeks into her pregnancy, which, according to Kiper had been “a long time coming,” Holly’s water broke, and she and Jacob were given a grim prognosis. The soon-to-be-parents were told that it was not likely that Holly could make it more than a week before giving birth to the boys, who would most likely not survive if born before 24 weeks gestation.
Holly was admitted to The Women’s Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana and was put on bed rest. She managed to make it an impressive three weeks before her sons were born at just 23 weeks and five days into the pregnancy, on May 24, 2012.
Reid was the biggest of the twins, weighing in at one pound and nine ounces, while his brother, Samuel was just one pound and five ounces at birth.
The boys were not only tiny, but fragile and with lungs that had not had enough time to develop for the harsh world that waited outside of their mother’s womb.
Doctors gave the boys, who were placed on ventilators and monitors and kept in incubators, a fifty percent chance of survival.
“They gave us all the worst scenarios,” Beverly Kiper said, recalling the first days and months of her grandsons’ lives.
The Kipers certainly had a lot to deal with concerning their sons’ health, but the family was even more hard-hit by the loss of Holly’s job as a teacher in Owensboro during the short pregnancy.
With the loss of her job, Holly also lost health insurance for herself and her boys. The expenses were sky-high and getting worse by the day.
“The twins’ only option for continued insurance was through COBRA, which will cost the family close to $1,000 per month and the medical bills from the NICU continue to accumulate every day,” Kiper said.
The boys remained in the neonatal intensive care unit at The Women’s Hospital for three and a half months. During that time, Holly and Jacob stayed at the hospital with them, with Jacob commuting from Newburgh to Owensboro each day for work.
The exhausted parents spent little time at all in their own home, though they were only allowed to hold their still-fragile boys briefly and very infrequently.
Reid was three weeks old before anyone was permitted to hold him, according to his grandmother. Only one parent was allowed to hold Reid one time a week. His smaller brother, Samuel, could not be held until he was more than a month old.
“We would just go in and look at them. That’s all we could do.” Kiper said, “We would just stand and look at them through their incubator window.”
“They hit some snags,” she said of the boys, “They had ups and downs, but continued to progress”
In September, the boys were transferred to Kosair Children’s Hospital, in Louisville, for much-needed surgeries, and after an emotionally and physically exhausting 139 days spent in hospitals, the boys finally were able to go home with their parents on October 9.
“They’re still tiny,” their grandmother said, adding that Reid now weighs in at eight pounds and 12 ounces, while Samuel is still a bit smaller at eight pounds and four ounces.
“But they’re pretty healthy,” she added.
Both boys are currently on oxygen, though the family hopes that they will soon have lungs strong enough to handle coming off of their ventilators. They can also expect some more long-term issues like significant asthma, according to the twins’ doctors.
The family could not be happier to finally be at home, though, and, according to Beverly Kiper, are extremely thankful for the prayers and thoughts that have been sent their way through this lengthy ordeal.
“We’re just blessed to have them,” she said, “They’re happy little boys.”
While their parents and grandparents may be overjoyed at the great odds the boys have overcome simply to survive, the family still faces insurmountable medical bills from such a long time spent in the hospital receiving specialized care.
In order to lend a helping hand with these bills, the local Boy Scout Troop 631, out of Clarkson, has decided to host a fundraiser on Saturday, October 27, which will include kids’ games, a variety of craft booths, a three-on-three basketball tournament, and concessions.
The troop felt that this was a need close to their own hearts since Jacob Kiper was formerly an Eagle Scout in the group. The church was also chosen because it is the place of worship in which Jacob grew up, and where his family still attends services.
The event will take place at Leitchfield Methodist Church, with booths going up at about 8 a.m. and the entire event lasting until approximately 3 p.m., according to coordinator Barbara Allen.
Participation in the basketball tournament costs $10 per person, and the winning team will take home a trophy and a $100 cash prize. For additional information about signing up to play for a good cause, contact Wes Whitmore at 589-0379.
Craft booths cost $25 to set up, and those manning the booths will keep the profits they make from the sale of their goods. For additional information regarding craft booths, contact Barbara Allen at 230-9999.
Also, the group will be conducting a variety of fun, outdoor games and activities for children including sack races, corn hole, a fishing pond and many more. Participation is $10 per child.
Proceeds from the tournament, booth set-ups, and outdoor games, as well as those from concessions sold during the event, will all go toward the medical expenses of the Kiper family.
You may also donate money toward their expenses by stopping into T-Shirt Express at 117 West Main Street (just off the square in Leitchfield) and leaving your donation in the donation jar dedicated to the Kipers.
Allen explained that the group hopes to do all they possibly can to help this family in their time of dire need, and encourages others to give as they can as well, adding, “Every little bit will help.”