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Michelle trecks the Great Wall of China

Michelle talks about how she walked the Great Wall of China to raise awareness of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, in memory of her son  

One of the biggest challenges of my life was being diagnosed with TTTS at 17 weeks into an identical twin pregnancy.  Up to one third of twin & multiple pregnancies involve identical twins with two thirds of these sharing the same placenta.  TTTS is a little known disease which affects 5-25% of identical twin pregnancies sharing the same placenta and is potentially life threatening for the unborn babies.

At 17 weeks into the pregnancy following a routine scan at our local hospital, I was referred to Birmingham Women’s Hospital to see Professor Mark Kilby, who diagnosed TTTS.  Sadly, my husband Cormac and I were informed that I had a very severe case of the disease and had to make swift decisions.  We were given 3 choices; do nothing, which would almost certainly result in losing both babies; terminate the pregnancy, which was not an option we wanted to take; or undergo Laser Surgery whereby blood vessels on the placenta are cauterised to even up the blood flow between the babies.  For us, the choice was easy and we opted for the Laser Surgery in order to give the babies a fighting chance.

I was admitted to hospital that evening and had the surgery at 8am the following morning.  All went well, but following a scan later that evening to check on progress, the smaller twin no longer had a heartbeat.  It was a very difficult situation to deal with as we were devastated at losing 1 twin but happy that the other was ok.  Another scan the following morning revealed that the surviving twin was doing well and also revealed that they were twin boys.

From then on I was given weekly scans to check on the progress of the surviving twin and when I started to leak amniotic fluid at 26 weeks, a possible side effect of the surgery, I was admitted to Birmingham Women’s Hospital where I was told I would stay until I gave birth.  The aim was to reach at least 28 weeks when survival rate is almost 100% and I made it to 30 weeks before I was given an emergency c-section and Aidan Peter was born weighing 2lb 14oz!  His brother Christian was subsequently cremated.

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with everything that has happened over the past few years.  We lost a son but also gained a son, so it was a bitter sweet pill to swallow.  On top of which, we had a little girl, Catherine, who was 2 at the time, and she needed attention too, but dealt with mummy being in hospital and then mummy and daddy visiting another hospital on a daily basis incredibly well.

*Main page image: "The Great wall - by Hao Wei" by Hao Wei from China - Flickr. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 


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