Medical procedure giving parents of unborn babies hope

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PHOENIX - A shocking diagnosis left a Valley couple wondering if their unborn babies we're going to survive. Learn about the medical procedure giving them and other parents a sign of hope.

“We had only heard one heartbeat before, so we thought we were pregnant with just one baby and then at the ultrasound at 12 weeks, we found there we’re two,” Bryanne McCown said.

A surprise McCown and her husband Adam couldn't believe.

“We started doing some research and what to expect during a twin pregnancy and see how it differs from a single pregnancy,” McCown said.

The pregnancy was going smoothly until an ultrasound revealed their unborn babies had a condition called twin to twin transfusion syndrome. It happens when identical twins share a placenta and connecting blood vessels causing one twin to give all of the blood and nutrition to the other one.

“If left untreated and it progresses like we thought it was progressing, there's a high percentage chance that neither baby survives,” Adam McCown said.

“The co-twin is going into heart failure because it's getting volume overload, so what will happen there as one gets smaller, one gets larger and becomes compressed,” Dr. Anthony Johnson said.

Johnson is with Texas Children's Fetal Center in Houston. The place the McCown’s turned to for laser ablation surgery to save their babies last December. The minimally invasive procedure uses a telescope to go into the placenta. It then identifies the connecting blood vessels and closes them off.
“We create two placentas,” Johnson said. “We separate them. So now the one twin which we call stuck twin or donor has its own placenta and has to sustain itself. The recipient twin that has been in heart failure now can resolve heart failure because we no longer have this volume coming from the donor.”

Once surgery is over it becomes a 24-hour waiting game.

“Survival rates you’re looking at overall survival at about 65-percent, survival of at least one, upwards of 95-percent in experienced centers such as Texas Children's Hospital,” Johnson said.

“When we found out that there we're two strong heartbeats, it was completely overwhelming, I burst into tears,” McCown said.

McCown was watched closely and put on bed rest until Brooke and Allison arrived in late February.
“The levels for the girls stayed pretty consistent, some minor fluctuations,” Adam McCown said. “They we're both growing appropriately. They both had good brain scans for blood flow. We we're really fortunate to have such a procedure.”

“We prayed so much and just know that miracles do happen and that we have two of them,” McCown said.

Texas Children’s Fetal Center
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