Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Kelly Finley was expecting identical twins, but there was a problem she was not expecting.
“The ultrasound took way longer than I thought it should have and the doctor didn’t speak the whole time,” Kelly Finley of New Castle recalled. “He said it was the worst case that he had seen.”
They had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome where blood flows through the single placenta away from one twin and into the other. One baby had no amniotic fluid. The other had an oversized heart and bladder from too much fluid.
“It takes two seconds to make the diagnosis on ultrasound because nothing else looks like it,” Dr. Stephen Emery of Magee Women’s Hospital said.
“At that point, all’s I wanted was for them to be here,” Kelly said.
If left untreated, both will die. To fix the problem, doctors used a laser to change the blood flow pattern and create two placentas instead of one. The worst part was waiting to see if it worked.
“That was the worst time of my life, not knowing because they obviously can’t ultrasound you every single day, not knowing if they’re both alive in there,” Finley said.
At centers that don’t have a laser, amniotic fluid is drained with a needle from the around the twin getting all the blood flow. But survival and neurological functioning is lower with that technique.
“These girls will never know what almost happened. They’re going to grow up and be normal people and have normal lives and contribute to society,” Dr. Emery said.
The twins are now 9-months-old and doing just fine.
“I feel so blessed,” Kelly said as she rocked her babies.
“They will never suffer from what could have happened to them had we not intervened and that’s the magic, that’s what’s so cool about this,” Dr. Emery said.
So far, Magee has done 12 cases in just over a year. In nine out of 10 cases, at least one twin is saved. In seven out of 10 cases, both twins are saved. The earlier the problem is diagnosed, the better the chances.