One of the great mysteries of pregnancy is what our babies will look like, once they’re here “on the outside.” What mother or father hasn’t daydreamed about whose eyelashes or hair color, nose or smile, the new bundle of love will be born with? For one couple in England, the answers were brought into beautiful focus in a series of photographs and a 10-minute video taken by a surgeon during a frightening medical procedure to correct a rare condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or TTTS.
Back in 2014, Sarah and Dan Maund of Dorset, England found themselves at St. George’s Hospital in London in order for Sarah to undergo a laser ablation surgery to correct TTTS, which is found in roughly 10 to 15 percent of identical twin pregnancies. During the surgery, multiple births expert and surgeon Professor Basky Thilaganathan caught the twins on video while exploring the placenta and the babies as part of the laser ablation surgery — and the amazing footage that resulted is now going viral.
TTTS occurs when both identical twins, who are surviving off the same placenta, are not receiving an equal amount of blood (which they need to, in order to thrive). When the placenta pumps more blood into one baby than the other, it causes significant problems. The baby receiving the blood will be at great risk of overwhelming the heart’s capacity to pump, while the other baby, deprived of blood, will be become anemic. Sadly, 90 percent of affected babies will die in cases where TTTS remains untreated, according to Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association.)
The medical solution to TTTS is for a laser ablation surgery, which is when a surgeon seals off parts of the placenta in an attempt to even out the blood flow between the twin babies, thus preventing one from receiving too much blood and the other from receiving too little. This sounds like a terrifying operation for any parent to go through, and as Dan Maund told The Huffington Post, the hours he spent waiting for it to be over were certainly agonizing.
“It was very, very scary,” said Dan. “I can’t even imagine what it was like for Sarah, but for me, when we were in the hospital for the operation, that’s when the emotions started flowing.”
Following the surgery, the family had to wait six hours to find out if the babies still had heartbeats, and if the surgery worked.
Thanks to the miraculous efforts of the medical team that treated Sarah and her twin babies, the Maund family welcomed two healthy, albeit premature boys into the world in September 2014.
Sarah told The Huffington Post:
“When I look at the womb photographs and I look at the boys now, I can’t believe how far we’ve all come. It was an incredible gift for Professor Thilaganathan to give us … We were given a one in three chance of both of them surviving, so we know how lucky we are to have two happy, healthy survivors.”
The couple credits the efforts of Tamba for helping their babies to survive the deadly condition of TTTS, and encourage other families with TTTS to register with Tamba in order to help find a cure.
For more information on TTTS or to donate to Tamba, please visit their official fundraising page.