THE day Cassie Arnold found out she was pregnant with three children was the same day she found out only one of them was still alive.

Until then, her doctor thought she had twins, but when he could only hear one heartbeat he performed a scan and found three babies.

In an “astronomically rare” twist, Miss Arnold, 22, had a set of twin boys and a third brother.

The twins, later named Lewis and Alex, had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

They were sharing both blood flow and nutrients, and died in the womb from resulting complications at just 21 weeks.

About a month-and-a-half later on February 6, Finley was born – 10 weeks premature.

As soon as he was delivered he was rushed into intensive care.

The first time his proud parents saw him properly was through the glass of an incubator, with a ventilator attached to him.

Dad, Adam Manning, 31, from Kidlington said: “He was tiny.

“I look back now at photos and I forget how much he has grown.”

Finley had trouble feeding and breathing on his own and was diagnosed anaemic.

He stayed in the incubator for one night and after that was kept under an ultra violet light for a week. In total he was in hospital for 10 weeks.

Mr Manning, who works for a security firm in London, said: “It was terrifying.

“First of all, he was high dependency, so we were panicking, even thought they told us it was just preventative. With all the good will in the world, alarm bells start ringing.”

Now, back at home with his mum in Kidlington Finley is doing fine, and it is thanks to the doctors and nurses at the John Radcliffe neonatal unit, which opened a £5.5m extension in July.

The unit is partly funded by the charity SSNAP – Support for the Sick Newborn And their Parents.

As a gesture of his and his partner’s thanks for all the unit did for their son, Mr Manning will on Monday set out on a sponsored walk of at least 126miles from his mum’s house in Aberdare, Wales to his home in Kidlington.

He is hoping to make it in five days and raise £1,000 for SSNAP each day. He will be joined by his friend Ian “Buzz” Busby, 31, also from Kidlington.

“The nursing staff are great. They do a fantastic job,” said Mr Manning. “It would make a difference to any parent.”

The charity, run by parents who have been through similar experiences, also puts on coffee mornings where parents can talk and find strength together.

Tony McDonald, General Manager, Children’s and Women’s Division at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The Newborn Care Service has received valued funds and contributions from SSNAP over many years which enables the service to provide care to babies and support to parents over and above that which we could normally provide. “This often funds support such as equipment, accommodation and environmental improvements. “We are very grateful to Adam and Cassie for their support to SSNAP in undertaking the sponsored walk and for their generosity in giving their time to do this and raise awareness of the service.”

  • To sponsor Mr Manning visit