By Alex Heigl / People
February 17, 2016
TIME Health
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Brittani and Ian McIntire didn’t plan on having any more children, but their six-week sonogram revealed that the Kansas couple was expecting twins: Mason and Madilyn.

But each successive appointment just delivered more and more bad news: Mason has a hole in his heart and an abnormal brain, and his growth development is already proceeding much slower than it should.

“He’s only weighing nine ounces and his sister is over two pounds,” Brittani told FOX8. “His only chance of survival would be heart surgery but they wouldn’t do heart surgery because of his brain.”

Tuesday, there was a brief glimmer of hope, though: “We didn’t really see much, she said there’s his hand and there’s her hand and it looks like they’re holding hands,” Brittani said. Sure enough, the couple’s most recent sonogram appears to show Mason’s much smaller hand wrapped around his sister’s finger.

“We know we have a piece of them together that will last forever… and it’s special to have,” Ian told FOX8.

“It’s just nice with everything going on… I know I’m holding him, I’m carrying him but I just want to be there for him,” Brittani added. “She’s the only one who can actually be there and is holding onto him… so it’s comforting to know that if he does pass, he won’t be alone.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

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