25 adorable images of twins who battled rare twin birth defects and were saved by surgery while in the womb
Elliot and Oliver Drake were born in Glasgow on July 1 – nine weeks after they won their battle with twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS)
Elliot and Oliver Drake were born in Glasgow on July 1 – nine weeks after they won their battle with twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS).
6Elliot and Oliver Drake survived the rare condition
The rare condition, which occurs in around one in ten identical twin pregnancies, means one sibling gets too much blood in the womb, while the other gets too little.
Left untreated, 90% of these babies die, while even with treatment there is only up to a 70% chance of both babies surviving, sometimes with a disability or health condition.
Elliot and Oliver survived after mum Lynsey Hay, 27, underwent laser ablation surgery in which a camera and laser were inserted into her womb through her stomach.
6The twins had to undergo surgery before they were born
Doctors used the laser to seal off connecting blood vessels in the placenta to help even the flow of blood between the two babies.
Nursery nurse Lynsey and lorry driver fiancé Anthony Drake, 28, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, said yesterday the twins are “the best Christmas present” they could have wished for.
Lynsey said: “When I look at them now, I still think about the fact they might not have been here.
“We can’t imagine life without them – they’re our wee miracles.”
6The family are telling their story for TTTS Awareness DayCredit: SALTIRE NEWS AND SPORT LTD 2017
Lynsey and Anthony shared their remarkable story as part of today’s TTTS Awareness Day, which is held annually on December 7.
They also want to encourage people to donate to the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba)’s TTTS Registry – a project collecting data on TTTS cases, which it is hoped will improve outcomes for babies in future.
The couple, who also have a daughter Amelia, five, said they were “nervous but delighted” when told they were expecting identical twins. But just weeks later they feared they would lose the boys, after they were diagnosed with TTTS.
After fortnightly scans, Lynsey’s consultant told her different levels of amniotic fluid were surrounding the babies.
Mum would have been devastated had she lost her babies
Lynsey said: “On one scan the amniotic fluid levels were 14cm on one baby and barely 2cm on the other. I was at 25 weeks and our consultant said we’d need laser ablation surgery the next day.
“Right at the beginning I’d thought ‘what am I going to do with two babies’ – but when you get your head around having two babies, and then someone says you might not take two babies home, you feel incredibly guilty.
“Twins wasn’t what I was expecting, but I would have been devastated if I’d lost one or both of them.
“When we had a scan afterwards, and there were two heartbeats, it was such a great feeling.
“At 30 weeks I felt much better and much more comfortable. We were booked in for a C-section for July 4, but the twins had other ideas and my waters broke on the July 1.”
Elliot and Oliver were born at Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow, via emergency C-section at 34 weeks and one day.
They both weighed exactly 4lb 1oz and were healthy baby boys.
Lynsey said: “They stayed in special care in Wishaw for two weeks, but that was really to allow them to grow a bit bigger and just make sure they were feeding okay.
“They’re five months now and they’re doing so well. They’re still a bit smaller than singleton babies but they’re definitely growing well and starting to show their personalities.
“Elliot seems more outgoing and feisty while Oliver is quite laid back and chilled, nothing fazes him.
“Amelia loves being a big sister.”
6One twin is feisty, the other is laid backCredit: SALTIRE NEWS AND SPORT LTD 2017
In TTTS cases, one baby receives less blood (the donor) and often becomes smaller and anaemic.
They can also suffer from a reduced amount of amniotic fluid and become stuck to the side of the womb. The twin who receives more blood (the recipient) becomes bigger and the higher blood volume puts a strain on their heart.
Only a handful of clinicians across the UK are able to perform laser ablation surgery on twins, as it is a highly specialised procedure.
Tamba is today [THURS] urging people to support its TTTS Registry, which was set up in 2015 to help specialists learn more about the condition and hopefully improve outcomes for TTTS babies. The Registry needs funds in order for vital research to continue.
Tamba’s Scotland coordinator Helen Peck said: “Lynsey and Anthony’s little boys truly are miracles and we’re so happy they’re doing well.
“Sadly there will be other TTTS families who don’t get their lovely happy ending, which is why we want to continue funding the TTTS Registry so more research can be done into this horrible syndrome.
“We want to see more babies surviving TTTS in future which is why this project is so vital.”
6Elliot and Oliver will celebrate their first Christmas this year
Lynsey added: “Throughout the pregnancy our motto was ‘prepare for the worst but hope for the best’. The possibility of losing one or both of them was always hanging over us, but thankfully we’re so lucky to have both boys with us.
“I’ve read so many stories of other families who weren’t as lucky as us – we feel incredibly grateful that they’re healthy and well.”