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A tiny miracle and a heartfelt mission: The inspiring journeys of A'sir and A'sani

A tiny miracle and a heartfelt mission:  The inspiring journeys of A'sir and A'sani

In March 2022, Bree Anderson and Andre Apparicio received the joyful news that they were expecting twins, when Bree was approximately five weeks pregnant. The revelation of having twins came as quite a surprise, despite the family history of multiples on both sides. Everything was proceeding smoothly, and Bree fondly recalls their immense excitement. They celebrated this momentous occasion with a gender reveal event held at the city park, surrounded by their loved ones and friends.

Then one day just a couple weeks later, something changed. “I wasn't in excruciating pain, but I thought that was going to be our first scare because I wasn’t having many problems during the pregnancy.” They rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered she was five centimeters dilated. “This was scary because it only takes two or three more centimeters,” Bree said. “So that was just a horrible feeling.” She was so worried because both babies were tiny. They were just 24 weeks and weighed just over a pound. They gave her medicine to try and prolong the pregnancy. The babies were born the following morning, July 21.

A’sir was delivered first. A’sani was next. They were whisked off to the NICU. Bree doesn’t remember even seeing them before they were taken. Her first view of her newborns was inside the NICU and with each inside an incubator. Both were on ventilators and both looked so tiny. “That was the first time we ever experienced seeing babies small,” said Bree.

Doctors were worried about the twins drinking enough formula and gaining weight. The micropreemies were born at another hospital, but within eight days A’sani was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Doctors discovered she had necrotizing enterocolitis. NEC, as it's more commonly known, is a condition where the tissue lining the intestine becomes inflamed, dies, and can slough off. “It's just scary. A scary thing, a scary time,” said Bree. She arrived at CHNOLA on day eight, but it was just too late. Doctors could not save her. The family was devasted but would continue to fight for A’sir.

It was just a few days later when A’sir was also transferred to CHNOLA. The problem at this point was blood loss and loss of oxygen in his blood. A’sir needed blood transfusions and needed to gain weight. Doctors wanted to put him on a higher calorie formula to help him pack on a few pounds but because of his sister’s diagnosis, Bree worried that the formula could increase the likelihood of NEC. She feared the worst. “That was really a struggle,” Bree said. Doctors convinced her it would be ok to carefully introduce formula while still feeding also with breastmilk. That helped ensure A’sir would not suffer any negative ramifications from the formula introduction. As they did that, doctors were able to slowly begin to wean him off his mother's breastmilk and that of donors. They introduced him to formula.

They then identified he had a heart defect called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) when he was just three weeks old. A procedure was performed by cardiologist, Dr. Bartakian, to close the PDA (an small artery which bypasses blood away from vital organs in the body and sends excessive blood flow to the lungs). Following the procedure, he seemed to improve for a time, but eventually began to require additional support to breathe. A’sir had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator again. Breathing was just so difficult. He was getting worse again. It was discovered that he had developed a blockage of the artery to his left lung. He was transferred to the cardiac intensive care unit and spent about a week there and would need another life-saving procedure.

On November 11, Dr. Frank Pigula performed open heart surgery to repair the blocked artery. He did well and was sent back to the NICU. Only after healing from the surgery was he allowed to be discharged to go home on oxygen.

In December 2022, five months after he was born, A’sir was finally able to come home. He spent 148 days in the NICU. It was a significant day for the whole family in another way as well: A’sir’s father Andre also proposed to Bree that day - right outside the emergency room. She said yes and they headed home - for the first time as a family. “It was kind of exciting but kind of scary,” Bree said. Just being home - after all they had been through with both children - Having A’sir well enough to be home was an anxiety-inducing blessing. 

Only after six months was he well enough to be completely off supplemental oxygen. “He’s been doing much better since he’s been home,” Bree said. No more machines. No more fears of a beeping which would indicate a low oxygen saturation level. “He is breathing well on his own and sleeps through the night,” Bree added. A’sir was released from oxygen by his pulmonologist Dr. Nuss on his grandmother’s birthday - May 31, 2022.

As A’Sir grows, his parents haven’t forgotten A’Sani. They started a charity to honor both children and to offer comfort and assistance to families who lose an infant or young child. It is also the mission of the A’sani Heartbeat Foundation to improve pregnancy outcomes, advocate for family support services and support families with loved ones being treated in a neonatal intensive care unit. A’sani’s legacy will live on through these efforts and her family, helping others who find themselves navigating the NICU. One day, Bree says she will tell A’sir about his twin sister, her courageous battle, and the memories of her heart which they will forever hold dear.

To learn more about the NICU at Children’s New Orleans, please visit: To learn more about the Heart Center, please visit: