Triplets with rare condition saved by operation in the womb; surgeon uses laser to separate blood supply between babies

 

By Dave Andrusko

Triplets Eilah, Erin and Elsie underwent a risky operation performed while they were still in the womb after they developed a rare condition which threatened to kill them all - and were born tiny but healthy

Triplets Eilah, Erin and Elsie underwent a risky operation performed while they were still in the womb after they developed a rare condition which threatened to kill them all – and were born tiny but healthy

Although this miraculous story appeared last month, I just learned about it this week, courtesy of Life News. There is a medical condition we’ve written about in the past– Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)—a very rare condition in which one twin gets too much of the blood supply endangering both babies for opposite reasons. But a recent case of TTTS in Great Britain came with a very unusual twist.

Last year Laura Slinger and her partner Martyn Halliwell discovered Ms, Slinger was expecting triplets, conceived naturally, according to reporter Lucy Lang. At 17 weeks it was found that two of the girls, Eilah and Elsie, were identical twins and sharing their blood supply from the placenta –TTTS.

The smaller twin, Elsie, was receiving too little and not developing properly. Bigger sister Eilah was receiving too much, which was placing a strain on her heart.

Survival of the identical twins obviously required surgery (to divide the twins’ blood supply) but there was a risk to the third triplet as well. According to Lang

Although the independent triplet, Erin, was not affected by the shared blood supply, her life could have been in danger if the condition led to an infection in the womb or premature labour, or if the surgery went wrong.

Mr. Halliwell, 29, a sales manager, said: ‘It was devastating when we knew all their lives were at risk and that they were literally killing each other.

‘We were worried about the operation as we knew that in itself it could be fatal for the babies, but we knew we had no option if we wanted to try to save their lives.’

Dr. Amar Bhide used a laser to separate the twins’ blood supply and the parents were left to wait to see if the blood supply was working properly.

“It was very nerve-racking but the doctors and hospital staff were wonderful and reassuring,” Mr. Halliwell told Lang. “We knew the operation was risky but there were also risks afterwards. Six hours later the triplets’ hearts were all still beating which was such a relief. We were so thrilled when we heard that the operation had worked and we hadn’t lost any of the girls.”

Doctors scanned Miss Slinger every week after the operation and delivered the triplets at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, not in January as scheduled, but in October. “Their premature birth meant they were all kept in hospital for weeks and they were transferred to Burnley General Hospital to be closer to their parents’ home,” Lang reported. Elsie was the last of the three made it home–Christmas Eve—meaning the family was able to celebrate their first Christmas together.

For his part, Dr. Bhide told Lang he had only carried out a handful of such operations:

“It is a rare operation in twins and even rarer in triplets as each normally have their own placenta.

“It is a tricky operation with triplets as the extra baby and its placenta can make reaching the other two babies difficult. I’m delighted that the triplets have been born healthy and safe.”