Clay County infant saves twin brother from SIDS

Boy suffered interrupted case of sudden infant death syndrome

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Twins are known for having an especially unique bond, but for one Clay County family, the closeness between their 8-month-old twins is a real life-saver.

One of the boys saved his brother from sudden infant death syndrome.

Whether it's answering the toy phone or smiling big for News4Jax's cameras, it's easy to see the bond between 8-month-old twins Phillip and James Hunstein is unbreakable.

"Since they came out, they have always been connected," said the twins' mother, Mary Hunstein. "They could not sleep unless they were together."

Hunstein said that's what the boys were doing one morning in April when she heard James screaming at the top of his lungs. She knew something was very wrong.

"I see Phillip not moving, not breathing, pale. I noticed there was blue around his lips and his fingertips," Hunstein said.

Hunstein first started doing CPR on Phillip. He was then rushed to Baptist Health Hospital in Clay County. He was put into a medically induced coma for more than a week.

Through multiple tests, doctors determined that what happened to Phillip was an interrupted case of SIDS, a condition that can affect babies up until their first birthday.

Doctors said the highest risk occurs during the first six months. Phillip was 1 month old.

Lindsey Perrotta was Phillip's nurse at Baptist Clay. While the direct cause of SIDS is virtually unknown, she said co-sleeping can be a trigger. She said a lot it has to do with the baby's breathing. She said not only should babies sleep separately, they should sleep on their backs with no pillows or blankets nearby and, as difficult as it may be, no stuffed animals.

"I know it's hard because some infants become attached to objects or blankets, and they like to sleep with them," said Perrotta. "They just become so comfortable that they just keep rebreathing that air, and it covers up their airway."

Seven months later, Phillip is thriving. Hunstein said he still does everything with his brother, James, only now they're sleeping separately. She gives credit to Baptist Clay for Phillip's care. But there's no denying, in her eyes, baby James is her little hero.

"If it wasn't for James being born at the same time as Phillip, I probably wouldn't have Phillip today," said Hunstein.

Baptist Clay also recommends parents keep a fan running in their infant's room. That helps circulate the air that they're breathing.

As for baby Phillip, he's now fully recovered and a healthy, happy baby boy.

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