LONDON, ONT. -- It was September of 2018 when Windsor, Ont. mom Kayla Ibarra went into labour with her twin girls, at only 22 weeks gestation.

She was rushed by ambulance to London’s Victoria Hospital. Ibarra was told her twin girls had close to a zero per cent chance of survival.

“We were just hoping that our daughters would live long enough for us to take photos of them and maybe hold them, that was our goal at that time - to be able to see them alive even for five minutes,” says Ibarra.

Once born, the babies were rushed to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) where they were cared for and medically treated for 115 days before being able to go home to Windsor.

“It’s because of them that my daughters are alive,” says Ibarra. “They weren’t sure if they were able to do it, but they did it and are 100 per cent why we are where we are today.”

Around1,000 babies a year rely on the NICU at London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Children’s Hospital.

It’s the specialized medical team and state-of-the-art equipment that sees babies being brought to London from across the province.

“The survival of very premature babies down to 23 weeks are significantly higher. Many of them are going home, many of them to live happy and healthy lives,” says Dr. Victor Han, chair of neonatal, perinatal medicine at LHSC.

Han says the increased survival rate for premature babies can be credited to the support and funds the NICU receives from the Children’s Health Foundation to purchase specialized equipment.

“Recently they have provided funds to purchase the very sophisticated echocardiogram machine with fundraising, so that we can assess the function of the heart, particularly those of very sick premature babies,” says Han.

Since their return to Windsor, Ibarra says her girls Luna and Ema, who are now two years old, are doing well after beating the odds.

“It’s amazing that only two hours from where we are at we have a medical facility that was able to save a 14-ounce baby. We owe everything to them.”