By Dave Andrusko
It’s been a long, remarkable journey for Lily and Darcy Ellis. Two years ago doctors advised their mother, Rachel, that she should abort. A year later they had role on the BBC hospital drama “Casualty.” Today “The inseparable twins” are “a picture of health – and love nothing more than bouncing up and down on the trampoline in their garden wearing matching skirts,” according to the British publication The Mirror.
In 2013, Rachel heard the startling diagnosis. At 18 weeks her twins had TTTS, an exceedingly rare and potentially lethal condition that occurs only in identical twins. In TTTS, one sibling, called the recipient, takes too much blood from the other–the “donor twin”–who can suffer stunted growth as a result, or die.
“The shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels, which connect the umbilical cords and circulations of the twins,” according to the Twin to Twin Transfusion Foundation. “The common placenta may also be shared unequally by the twins, and one twin may have a share too small to provide the necessary nutrients to grow normally or even survive.”
In her post for Friday Magazine, Rachel said doctors gave the twins only a 5% chance of survival. The first option doctors presented to Rachel was abortion, but she refused.
“I didn’t have to hear any more on the subject,” Rachel wrote. “I knew that wasn’t an option for me.”
According to The Mirror, Rachel underwent called selective laser ablation. She
had the radical operation at Fetal Medicine Unit at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol – watching the whole procedure on a screen because she was only under a local anaesthetic.
Doctors inserted a camera and fibre optic laser down a tiny endoscope into her womb, using it to seal off some of the shared blood vessels to ensure the girls received a more equal supply of blood.
Under a local anesthetic, Rachel watched the entire procedure on a video screen. “At first I couldn’t make anything out but then [my fiancé] Stephen [Ellis] said: ‘Look! Look at that!’” Rachel recalled. “The camera was moving up behind one of the twins and I could see her tiny clenched hand on the screen. ‘That’s incredible!’ I gasped.”
The very next day Rachel’s water broke. She wrote
“I was convinced it was the end, that I’d lost the twins. I was still only 19 weeks pregnant. How could they survive being born at such a young age?”
Rushed to the hospital, instead of losing the twins, a more detailed scan revealed that the twins’ sacs had both resealed and filled up with amniotic fluid again – an event the ultrasound technician called “incredibly rare.”
When one of the twins started to fall behind the other in growth again, at 34 weeks doctors recommended a C-section. Lily and Darcy were born weighing about 5 pounds.
“They were perfect. My little miracles,” Rachel wrote for Friday Magazine
As The Mirror explained the twins appearance on BBC hospital drama “Casualty,” playing “the same role of a baby of a homeless family; the director of the show told Rachel the pair were the best babies he had ever worked with in the industry.”
Two years after their miraculous births, the twins are a bouncing bundle of energy. Rachel, 29, told Wales One
“They are just brilliant and are both growing up so fast.
“They are so close, I caught them feeding each other the other day – it was so cute.
“Wherever one goes, the other follows, it’s wonderful to see them together and to see that they are so close to each other.”