By Emilie Ng
LIVING miracles Madison and Sarah Pepper have good reason to count their birthday candles each year.
The St Benedict’s Primary School, Mango Hill, Year 2 students are one of thousands of premature-born babies named “little miracles” at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital.
“We are called miracles because we were born early,” Madison said.
Mum Deborah was diagnosed with pre-eclamptic toxaemia and doctors at the Mater decided to bring her two babies to the world early.
Madison and Sarah, twins, were born at just 25 weeks gestation, Sarah weighing 650 grams and given only a five to 10 per cent survival rate, while sister Madison weighed in at 580 grams with a 40 per cent chance at life.
All young Madison knows that she and her sister “weren’t breathing” and were taken to a special care unit.
Madison left hospital after 107 days and had to wait for just over a month before she could be reunited with her persevering sister.
Mrs Pepper said the idea of losing their first-borns was “terrifying”.
“It was the worst case scenario but we remained positive and just really appreciated every day we got to see them and kept telling them how much we loved them and how much we wanted them to stay with us,” Mrs Pepper said.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions but we’re really thankful and grateful for the Mater for looking after our miracles.”
The bubbly twins blew out seven candles on May 24, celebrating with mum, dad and their younger three-year-old brother, Blake, who was also born premature.
Mrs Pepper and husband Kade Pepper said every year older was “a milestone”.
“They’re fit, bouncy, healthy, beautiful girls full of life, and energy,” Mrs Pepper said.
“We’re very proud and lucky.”
To thank the Mater Mothers’ Hospital for another year of life, the twins walk hand-in-hand with their parents for the Mater Little Miracles 5km challenge each year.
“It’s something close to our hearts obviously, and we just want to give back to the hospital and try and raise as much funds as we can because we’ve seen where the money goes,” Mrs Pepper said.
The girls even inspired a group of their Catholic primary school teachers to join them in the walk on May 30.
St Benedict’s School principal Mark Creevey said Sarah and Madison were “beautiful girls”.
“They are a gift to our community, made possible by the special care of the people at the Mater Hospital,” Mr Creevey said.
While in the classroom, the girls are working hard to achieve their dream jobs.
Madison hopes to be a teacher, while Sarah would like to be a police officer.
“But we hope that we would grow up to be nice girls,” Maddison said.