For Stoneham family, a miracle times two

Josh and Molly Crowley of Stoneham with twin daughters Sara (left) and Emily, who will represent the state as “champions’’ for the Children’s Miracle Network. Josh and Molly Crowley of Stoneham with twin daughters Sara (left) and Emily, who will represent the state as “champions’’ for the Children’s Miracle Network.
(Steve Lipofsky)
By Bella Travaglini
Globe Correspondent / May 30, 2010

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Twin sisters Emily and Sara Crowley of Stoneham each have their own distinct personality. Sara is athletic, dainty, and reserved. Emily is outgoing, loves to play dress-up, and greets the neighbors when they return home from work with a big “Hi!’’

But these sisters, who will turn 5 years old on June 26, share a triumphant distinction. They have been selected to represent the state as “champions’’ for the Children’s Miracle Network and Children’s Hospital Boston and will represent 17 million children treated at network hospitals.

Emily and Sara each overcame life-threatening ailments, having been born 12 weeks premature at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston at a combined weight of just under 5 pounds. Since the newborn intensive care unit at the hospital was full, the twins were immediately transferred to Children’s Hospital Boston’s neo natal intensive care unit.

Emily suffered two brain hemorrhages before she was 3 days old, while Sara had apnea, a condition caused by underdeveloped lungs that hampered breathing. They were kept in separate incubators, hooked up to state-of-the-art medical equipment, unable to meet and bond together.

Their parents, Molly and Joshua Crowley, were not able to hold or even touch them during the first several days. They spent three months in intensive care, and the future for the twins was uncertain.

Nearly five years later, showing no long-lasting effects of the medical obstacles they faced, the girls will travel with their parents on June 6 to Washington, D.C., with other Children’s Miracle Network ambassadors from across the country for a tentative meeting with President Obama at the White House, where they hope also to meet the first dog, Bo. Later in the week, they will meet informally with congressional representatives from Massachusetts on Capitol Hill. In November, the family will join a weeklong network celebration at Walt Disney World Resort.

“This is such a huge honor for what we’ve been through; we want to give back to Children’s [Hospital] and Children’s Miracle Network,’’ said Molly Crowley. “They saved the girls. And Emily and Sara are so excited to meet all the other children we have been reading about to them.’’

The fraternal twins attend private preschool at the Purpose School in Stoneham and now need no special medical attention. They will attend kindergarten in the fall at St. Mary’s of the Annunciation School in Melrose.

Children’s Hospital Boston is one of 170 hospitals in North America that are partners in the Children’s Miracle Network, founded in 1983 by entertainer Marie Osmond and her family, along with actor John Schneider.

Children’s Hospital joined the program in 2002, said Jennifer Kaczenski, manager of Children’s Miracle Network Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. Through the support of major sponsors Walmart and Sam’s Club, and various others including Marriott Boston Hotels and Rite Aid Pharmacy, some $6.4 million has been raised for Children’s Hospital during the past eight years.

Dr. Janet Soul, pediatric neurologist and director of the Neonatal Neurology Clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston, who cared for the Crowley twins for three years after they were born, said that looking at them today, one would never know how sick Emily and Sara were when they were born.

“I think that Sara and Emily are great ambassadors,’’ said Soul. “They show kids that they can overcome great obstacles.’’

While Soul recognizes that without innovative medical intervention, children like Emily and Sara would not survive, she believes a little bit of luck and the girls’ own strength contributed to their success story.

Joshua Crowley sees things a bit differently.

“The care Sara and Emily received [at Children’s Hospital] was nothing short of miraculous,’’ said Crowley. “The nurses and doctors saved our girls’ lives, repeatedly.’’

Bella Travaglini can be reached at

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