Graphic: Davis family
When Mount Gambier resident Amanda Davis felt the first startling twinges of labour, she was also overcome by a strong feeling of déjà vu.
That's because three years earlier, Amanda and her husband Craig had suffered the tragedy of giving birth to twin daughters – Lila and Harper – when Amanda was just 20 weeks pregnant and the tiny newborns' little lungs could not sustain their first breaths beyond a few heart-breaking minutes.
And now, knowing from past events that Amanda was prone to premature labour and birth, they were faced with the same dreadful set of circumstances.
Craig and Amanda hurriedly made their way to emergency department of the Mount Gambier Hospital for assessment by medical staff.
Hoping to prolong the pregnancy, doctors first administered medication designed to stop the labour from continuing. Amanda also received steroids to help mature the babies' lungs as much as possible.
Graphic: twins in hospital
If the labour was prolonged, this would have allowed time for the twins to be delivered in a major Adelaide hospital where crucial specialist neonatal staff and facilities were close at hand at the time of birth.
However, attempts to stall the developing labour were unsuccessful, so, at 30 weeks' gestation, little Nash and Preston were delivered at Mount Gambier Hospital by emergency caesarian section.
"With their lungs too small to cope, one of the boys was immediately put on a medical ventilator, while the other was manually ventilated for 'what felt like an hour'", Craig says.
While the births were taking place, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) had been contacted and an RFDS aircraft – with the MedSTAR Kids neonatal retrieval team and RFDS Flight Nurse Jackie Matear on board – was already on its way to Mount Gambier, finding a way through stormy weather to touch down safely.
"I just can't describe the feeling of immense relief that came over us on the arrival of the aeromedical team," Craig says.
Graphic: Davis family
"You're suddenly completely reassured that all the skilled care and specialist equipment that you need for you very own emergency aeromedical transfer has just come in to the room."
The two little boys were soon speeding their way to Adelaide.
Driving from Mount Gambier to Adelaide takes almost five hours, but the RFDS aircraft covers this ground in just 60 minutes.Donate
On arrival at Flinders Medical Centre, the boys were immediately placed into the hands of neonatal specialists.
Meanwhile, Amanda was stabilised following her surgery and flew the next morning in another RFDS aircraft to be with her newborn sons. After the boys' speedy flight and the special care they received in their first hours, days and weeks, the boys are now fit and well – this time, a very happy ending.
"I am in no doubt that without the specialist care and the emergency RFDS flight that the boys received, we would have lost another two," Craig says.
"That would have been absolutely devastating."