A County Durham couple have been left heartbroken after one of their twin girls died hours after being born.

Sarah-Ann Shepherd, 21, and Martyn Cutress, 26, were told their little girl had a rare fetal condition that causes a blockage in the urinary tract.

Kera-Leanna had a lower urinary tract obstruction (Luto) and her urethra, which transports urine from the bladder, hadn’t developed.

The Newton Aycliffe couple were told Kera-Leanna could potentially survive but as the pregnancy progressed doctors said the condition had prevented her lungs from developing.

Baby Kera-Leanna and her twin sister Veronica-Mai were born 11 weeks early on May 5 by emergency cesarean.

Tragically, Kera-Leanna, who weighed just 3lb 8oz, died after only nine hours the following day.

Sarah said: “We found I was pregnant and at about eight weeks I had to go for an early scan because I had had a bleed and we found out I was having twins.

“I got booked in for another scan but had to go to Durham because of them being twins and Durham specialising in twin births.

“I was 12 weeks when I found out about baby Kera’s birth defect because they noticed she had a really full bladder.

“That’s when they first realised something was wrong.”

It was then Kera was diagnosed with Luto and doctors said she was taking in amniotic fluid like normal but couldn’t let it out.

Sarah-Ann said: “At first they said they thought they might be able to fix it once she was here because I was so early there wasn’t anything they could do at that point.

Sarah-Ann with Kera-Leanna and Veronica-Mai

“So they did say that if she survived they would be able to try and do an operation to fix the problem but as time went on it just got worse.

“They did say that they could do a thing where they put a tube in her bladder into the amniotic fluid so the fluid could come out of her bladder but they didn't think that would work as this was still really early on,

“We kept going to more appointments and it was just keeping an eye on the development of her sister and they were worried it could cause twin to twin transfusion.

“They were a little bit worried it might affect the other baby but thankfully it hasn’t and she is perfectly fine.

Sarah-Ann and Martyn were told it was not the Luto that would end their daughter's life but her lung development as her belly was getting bigger and there was no room in her chest for her lungs to fully develop.

She said: “After we found that out we kind of had to get into our heads that we were going to lose one of them.

“It was harder on me because I was carrying them and I could still feel her moving so I was still holding on to hope she would have survived.”

Sarah-Ann went into labour at 29 weeks and had an emergency c-section because they couldn’t tell which baby was in the breech position.

“I gave birth on May 5, she lived for nine hours and then we had to turn the ventilator off on the 6th. It was hard but I had my partner and mum there with me as well," Sarah-Ann said.

Veronica-Mai is still in the James Cook Hospital Neonatal Unit receiving treatment but Sarah-Ann says the little girl is “doing amazing”.

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She said: “She is on 5ml of milk every two hours and she did have to be underneath a blue light because she was jaundice but she was off that now and off the ventilator.

"She is on the CPAP machine now, just to give her that little bit more help. Her development was amazing.”

Now the family has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for Kera-Leanna’s funeral, with any extra money being donated to the James Cook Hospital Neonatal Unit.

Sarah-Ann said: “I’m not used to all the support because the team at James Cook NICU have been absolutely unreal. They have been amazing.

"We have the whole of my family supporting us and the whole of my partner’s family supporting us. They have been amazing.”

To donate to the fundraising campaign, visit here.