Mother of twin baby who was stillborn raising awareness of rare condition

  • Elements of this report are distressing.

A Wrexham mum who was pregnant with twins is raising awareness of a rare condition which saw her lose one son in the womb, whilst the other continued to grow. 

Laura Pridding from Rhosddu was told her boys had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome [TTTS] a condition which occurs in around 10-15% of pregnancies with twins who share a placenta.

The couple welcomed baby George into the world, weighing just 2lb 5oz, on 7 January this year but his brother Henry was stillborn, having lost his fight six weeks earlier.

Laura, 30, and her partner Ali Davies discovered there was an issue at a scan appointment.

“We had a scan at about 15 weeks and they said they had TTTS. Because they were sharing arteries George was having more blood than Henry.

"We were referred to fetal medicine in Wrexham. At the appointment the doctor passed some tissues to me and said ‘have you heard of twin to twin transfusion’ and we broke down.

"We knew straight away what it was. They shared a placenta and shared the arteries on the placenta.”

Baby George receiving treatment in hospital. Credit: Family photo

TTTS occurs when there are abnormal connections between the babies’ blood vessels on the surface of the placenta.

This then causes blood to be transferred from one twin (the donor) to the other (the recipient).

Because the donor baby has less blood, flow is prioritised to the brain. This means other organs could be damaged.

The recipient twin risks heart problems because it has to work harder to cope with the increased blood flow.

Laura was referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital where specialist Professor Asma Khalil looked after her.

Professor Khalil told ITV Wales “Laura had an identical twin pregnancy, they shared one placenta and she developed a condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome or commonly we name it TTTS.

Professor Asma Khalil explains the details of TTTS

"This is a condition that occurs in the start of pregnancy when they share one placenta because the twins share the circulation and about 10-15% of these pregnancies, one twin will get too little and the other twin gets too much.

"Therefore the twin who gets too much develops a lot of fluid in the sac...and the other twin that gets too little, often a lot smaller and has very little fluid around its own sac and we call it the donor twin.

"The problem in TTTS, both babies are struggling and could, unfortunately, when it’s severe and not treated, we can lose one or both babies in up to 80 or 90% of these pregnancies.”

Professor Khalil added :"We know that the best treatment that improves the survival of these babies and reduces the chance of disability is a laser surgery.

"This is a surgery inside the womb using a very small telescope and this telescope, we go inside the uterus and we use a very tiny laser fibre to seal this blood vessel connecting the two circulations and therefore we stop this imbalance in circulation between the two babies and with this laser surgery.

"The chance of having at least one baby surviving is in the region of 85%, the chance of having two babies surviving is in the range of about 70%.

“We don’t manage to save all babies but most babies. Looking after these parents is very humbling and very special. The most rewarding part of my job is to be part of this...journey".

Describing the procedure as “amazing”, Laura and Ali watched on a monitor and it looked like it had been successful.

They continued travelling for scans but at 21 weeks Laura noticed a lack of movement and a later scan confirmed Henry had died.

Laura continued: “I said what happens now? I’ve lost a baby but the other one is OK.”

The answer was one the couple found hard to accept. Laura had to go through the pregnancy knowing Henry had died, to give George the best chance of survival.

Ali said: “We struggled with that.”

Laura added: “I thought, 'how am I going to walk the streets knowing I’m carrying two babies and I’ve lost one? It was horrible.

“That was the worst part for me, knowing I’ve got to carry on and try and be healthy for George when I know I’ve lost the baby.”

George continued to thrive, then Laura’s waters broke on Christmas Day last year, at 25 weeks, and she went to Arrowe Park, in the Wirral.

Baby George at home after receiving treatment at hospital.

She was given antibiotics, magnesium for George’s brain and steroids to help his lungs during multiple visits until she was sent to Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan on January 6 this year.

“I’d had all the drugs and we got to Glan Clwyd and they said ‘right they’re coming tonight” said Laura. “I was 27 weeks and four days.”

Four months on and George continues to go from strength-to-strength and the family say they are settling into a new routine.

Laura says she's now planning to campaign about the condition to raise awareness.

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