Lilly & Madelaine’s Story

Touch saved my life

Madelaine and Lilly are twins. They live in Hamburg, Germany, like HipHop and tell each other everything. They are inseparable since their birth. Since the moment when Lilly saved her sister's life.

Lilly & Madelaine’s Story (1:57)


A dramatic start in life

There are around 15 million babies worldwide born prematurely every year. In the case of Lilly and Madelaine, it was 9 weeks. Both fought for survival: They were monitored in an incubator and had to be ventilated. But Madelaine's chances were lower; she was born with a hole in her heart.

When you see yourself in your first family pictures, how do you feel? Do you recognize yourselves or do you feel like you are looking at someone else?

M: The pictures kind of represent how we still are today – always together. Mom and Dad told us from an early age how difficult these first few weeks were. We almost died. Luckily, one nurse had the idea to put us together in an incubator…
L: Where we hugged each other, our little fingers touching. From that moment onwards, our chance of survival increased. Eventually, Madelaine was able to breathe on her own and the hole in her heart closed.
M: Our mother was too weak to visit us in the neonatal ward. So Dad always took Polaroid pictures of us. But there wasn’t much to see. We were so tiny, and there were tubes everywhere.

“Our friends keep on saying: ‘It’s not normal how close you are!“



A lasting connection

The intimacy that is between you, has it remained unchanged since you were born?

L: All our friends say they have never seen twins or siblings that are so close like we are. They keep on saying: ‘It’s not normal how close you are!’ Actually, it rarely happens that we are separated for more than an hour. We just miss each other too much.
M: I am constantly worried about Lilly. When we go skiing or cycling, Lilly always has to ride in front of me. Otherwise I would constantly turn around to make sure nothing has happened to her.
L: We are just as close today as when we were born. We hug and touch each other every day.

Time passes. The Power of touch remains.

„So I felt it as a mom, and I know it today as a physician: touch can heal.“

Prof. Tzipi Strauss

Chief of Neonatology at Sheba Medical Centre, Tel Aviv, Israel

Where science meets survival

Kangaroo care started in Bogota, Colombia in the 1970s to address high infection and mortality rates in hospitals due to crowding and scarcity of incubators. Mothers were encouraged to hold their babies in skin- to-skin contact for extended periods and while breast-feeding. Morbidity and mortality among the infants rapidly declined. In the years since, many studies of kangaroo care have validated its numerous, substantial, and long-lasting benefits for babies and families. Among its reported benefits are cardiorespiratory and temperature stability, better sleep organization, improved performance on behavioral assessments, reduced adverse responses to painful procedures, and improved family environment.