Unborn twin’s “distress signal” saves her sister’s life

By Dave Andrusko

Let me preface this by saying this is a beautiful story: “Twin sends out ‘distress signal’ from mother’s womb to save her sister’s life.” Here is Pheba M.’s lovely opening  paragraph:

Twins always share a special bond. They start their lives together from their mother’s womb and are known to be each others’ best friends till death. One can’t bear to see the other in trouble and go to great lengths to protect them. Maybe that’s why Poppy McBride sent out distress signals from the womb upon seeing her sister struggle, leading the doctors to deliver them early and save her life.

Here’s the background.

Doctors had advised Leah McBride and her husband, Austin, to abort Poppy, the smaller of the twins. Why? Because they had discovered at a scan taken at 21 weeks that “the girls had a twin-to-twin transfusion, in which there is an imbalance of blood flow. It makes one baby a donor and the other the recipient of all the nutrients.”  

Indeed, there was a 48% difference. By aborting Poppy, the McBrides were told, their  other daughter, Winnie, “would have a better chance of survival as the doctors were worried that Poppy would have a heart attack as she was passing all the nutrients to Winnie and they thought Winnie might have a stroke.”

What a horrible dilemma but Leah didn’t wish to choose Winnie over Poppy and sought a second opinion, Pheba M. wrote. Doctors at Memorial Hermann Hospital suggested surgery. Viola: they were able to steady the blood imbalance!

But the babies were not out of the woods yet. Leah’s water broke at 27 weeks and the doctors tried steroids to hold off their twins’ birth.  And then…

At 31 weeks, Poppy’s heart rate dipped and showed no signs of improving, forcing the doctors to deliver both kids. They were born on May 24, 2019. Doctors were surprised to find that Poppy, despite being smaller than her twin at 1lb 11oz, was perfectly healthy. However, her sister Winnie—who weighed 3lb 8oz—was not. She was born with underdeveloped lungs and had to be taken to the intensive care unit.

Leah revealed that doctors told her Poppy saved her sister’s life and that if they had waited longer to deliver the twins, Winnie would not have made it. Winnie had to go through brain surgery at 14 days old to remove fluid build-up and she has recovered well after it.

Pheba M. concluded her beautiful story with an update:

McBride who is from Lake Jackson, Texas, said: “Our doctors told us, ‘I think your tiny twin saved her sister’s life.’ Poppy’s heart rate had been all over the place, so they had to deliver, but when she was born, she was completely fine.” The doctors believe she sent out the distress signals because she knew her sister wouldn’t survive unless she was delivered soon. Leah added, “Even now Poppy takes care of Winnie, though she is still much smaller.” The doctors called Poppy “feisty but she was smaller than an elf on the shelf,” the proud mom shared. Both girls are now doing great. Leah said that they are “smart as they can be” and that Winnie can “read books from memory at 3.”

They are also very close to each other. When Leah tried to move their beds apart, “they weren’t having it,” she revealed.

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