Lilly & Madelaine’s Story

Touch saved my life

Madelaine and Lilly are twins. They live in Hamburg, Germany, like HipHop Music 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.

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

Prof. Dr. 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.

Tactile Stimulation: Where science meets survival

Premature babies often stop breathing, but a simple touch stimulates them to breathe again. However in everyday hospital life, it’s difficult for the nurses to touch every single premature baby in time. Fortunately, researchers in Leipzig have developed a method that can be used to semi-mechanically stimulate premature babies. NIVEA promotes this project to increase the chances of survival of premature babies.

Learn more

Touch Saved My Life

These people share stories of how they experienced life-saving touch. What is yours?
Sandra, Germay

Our son was born 12 weeks too early. He had to spend nine weeks in the neonatal ward. Every day, we held him closely to our skin, to give him the warmth he needed. This method is called “kangarooing“. Today, he is a beautiful, happy 2.5-year-old.
Richard, USA

One day my girlfriend and I went to the Delaware River to take a walk. I decided to wade into the river and some of the rocks were slippery. As I waded through the river, I slipped on one of the rocks. And next to that rock was a deep hole and I went down that hole, feet first. I was trying to get out, and as a last gasp effort, I managed to raise my right hand. A second later, I felt someone grasp me, pull me up, and get my head above the water. It was the young woman! She had been several yards further down, and had't seen me come out again. So, feeling another hand touching me, I knew that I wouldn't die. That was obviously a deep and important experience.
Lisa, Germany

Our baby was due in the middle of lockdown. I had been in labor for two days already. My husband wasn't allowed in the delivery room. I had regular check-ups. But, nevertheless, I felt mostly alone with my pain. Then the midwife's shift changed. The new midwife placed her hand on my back to greet me. This was the first touch I felt since I had been induced. This little gesture of physical affection gave me strength. In this moment I felt hopeful again that, somehow, I would manage to bring this child into the world.