TO look at them now you would never guess that identical twins Joey and Rhys Horne were given just 24 hours to live when they born by emergency caesarean section.

The boys, now 17 months old, and their mum Michelle, 27, of Oak Close, Bishops Cannings, all suffered haemorrhages and needed emergency transfusions.

Mrs Horne was suffering from the condition vasa praevia, which means blood vessels from the umbilical cord lie low down in the womb and are likely to be ruptured during a normal birth.

It was not until Mrs Horne went into labour that doctors realised the problem and she was rushed into the operating theatre.

At one point Joey died and had to be resuscitated. Even when the twins started to improve, Michelle and her husband Simon were warned the boys were brain damaged.

When they were a few months old they were referred to Devizes Opportunity Centre and they have continued to thrive.

Mrs Horne said: “So much happened so quickly when they born that I didn’t have time to take it in. My husband was told they would not survive 24 hours but he didn’t tell me straight away as I was still ill myself.”

The boys, who were born five weeks prematurely, were transferred to St Michael’s Children’s Hospital, Bristol, but Mrs Horne had to stay in Bath.

She said: “In the end I couldn’t stand being parted from them any longer and I insisted on going to Bristol so my mum drove me there. I worked in a nursery and also had a job caring for children with complex needs so I thought I would be able to cope, but when it is your own it is completely different.”

The twins started at the centre last September. Mr Horne, who works in security, said: “The opportunity centre has been very good for the boys.”

Although Mrs Horne knew about the centre she did not realise what a wide range of children it cared for.

She said: “We have really benefitted from them getting support from different specialists all under one roof.

“I have also had a lot of support from other parents who really understand what you are going through.”

So far the boys are proving doctors wrong. Joey took his first steps two weeks ago.

Mrs Horne said: “We won’t really know how they are doing until they are two but we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The couple urged people to support our Give Us A Chance appeal.