Deciding to go through fetal surgery is one of the most difficult decisions a human being can face. In Twice Born, a recent PBS Special, the world of fetal surgery is revealed, with all of its complications and possibilities. Through the stories of patients, surgeons, medical directors and obstetricians, the viewer can see some of the complications pregnant women face, including Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).
The series follows Tina and Brion, a couple who were pleasantly surprised to be having twins. However, they were even more surprised when they found out about Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). TTTS can result from a disproportionate blood supply and can sometimes even lead to the twins’ death. While the couple discovered the disease during an ultrasound, they remained hopeful that the babies would survive.
TTTS is a disease of the placenta that affects identical twins. The placenta is not evenly shared between the twins, causing one twin to be smaller than the other. While the smaller twin, or donor twin, doesn’t get enough blood, the larger, recipient twin receives too much. If the donor twin survives, they are often born at a low birth weight. Low birth weight can affect overall health, primarily the brain and how it functions. Surviving twins are at risk for cerebral palsy, blindness and hearing loss.
TTTS can sometimes cause fetal death. Removing amniotic fluid, or the fluid surrounding the fetuses, can often be beneficial. By using a needle, fluid can be moved from the sac with excessive fluid to the sac that is lacking. Fetoscopic laser photocoagulation is also an option for treatment. During this surgical procedure, laser energy is used to seal abnormal blood vessel connections in the placenta. In most cases where laser photocoagulation was performed, the progression of TTTS could be stopped.
Watch the full series to learn more about birth injuries. No pregnancy is perfect, but medical professionals must do everything they can to ensure that parents walk away with healthy babies. At Reiter & Walsh, we understand how difficult living with permanent birth injuries and disabilities can be. If your child was born with cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or other birth injuries, call us to find out if you have a case. We’ll review your case for free at any time. We won’t charge any fees until we win.