Sara Belisle and her mother, Mary Harvey, hold twins Adam and Eric, 1 1/2 years old. Behind them are Stephen Carr, MD, Sara's daughter Allison, age 9, and Francois Luks, MD.
Sara Belisle of Kensington, N.H. had just come back from visiting her sister in Amsterdam, when she found out she was pregnant. Soon afterward, she thought she had lost the baby. Fortunately, that wasn't the case-at 10 weeks an ultrasound was performed and Belisle found she was having identical twins. Three weeks later, she got some bad news.
Belisle was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), a condition she had never heard of. She was advised not to read too much about it, either. Doctors in New Hampshire told her they could not manage this condition and referred her to New England Medical Center in Boston. Her case was so severe she was immediately put in touch with the Fetal Treatment Program. She underwent surgery two days later. While she was on bedrest doctors continued to monitor her with ultrasound twice a week until she gave birth at 29 weeks. Her boys were born prematurely on November 26, 2004, weighing 2 pounds and 2.14 pounds. Both were in the hospital for several months. Her boys, Adam and Eric, are now healthy at 1 1/2 years old. During her pregnancy, friends, neighbors and people from her church rallied around the Belisle family, bringing them dinners, helping out with her 9-year-old daughter Allison and giving a lot of moral support.
Michael and Rosanne Stoddard with their sons, 3-year-old twins Colin and Kevin, and 8-year-old Kyle.
Early in her pregnancy, Rosanne Stoddard of Wallingford, CT. knew she was having twins. Then at 15 weeks, she was diagnosed with TTTS, a condition neither she nor her doctors were familiar with. Stoddard's physician said to take it one day at a time and didn't recommend surgery. While doing research on the Internet, Stoddard came across the Fetal Treatment Progam. She sent an email to Francois Luks, MD. Soon afterward, she met with Luks and Stephen Carr, MD, and they told her she had severe TTTS (stage III) and could not wait any longer. Within 45 minutes she was in surgery, as doctors used a laser to sever five blood vessels connecting the twins. The surgery went well, but there were signs that one twin had stopped progressing, so doctors monitored Stoddard carefully. She gave birth five weeks early on January 27, 2003, to twin boys Colin and Kevin. While they have some delays in speech development, both are healthy. They have an 8-year-old brother, Kyle.
David and Bernadette Bregoli with their daughters, twins Olivia and Lea, age 3, and Lauren, age 6.
Bernadette Bregoli of Abington, MA. was watching the Learning Channel when she first learned about TTTS. She was pregnant with twins and started crying when she saw the documentary. Not long afterward, at 16 weeks, Bregoli was diagnosed with TTTS and told it was extremely serious. If she didn't do anything, she had an 85 percent chance of losing both twins. Her physician called Francois Luks, MD, and Stephen Carr, MD, and that day, Bregoli was on her way to the Fetal Treatment Program, reading literature on the way about TTTS. Doctors successfully performed laser surgery to correct the condition, and Bregoli later gave birth to twin girls, Lea and Olivia, on June 20, 2003. Olivia was born with a hole in her heart, which has since closed. Both girls are now healthy, with some minor speech delays. They have a 6-year-old sister, Lauren.
Brian and Kathleen Perry with sons Casey, 9 months, and Aidan, 3.
After the birth of their first son, Kathleen Perry of Haverhill, MA. got pregnant a year later but lost the baby. Within three months, she was pregnant again. Just before her ultrasound at 19 weeks, her belly was stretched tight and her skin hurt. While doing research on the Internet, she came across information about TTTS. A few days later, her ultrasound showed what she had already read about-a diagnosis of TTTS. A doctor she was referred to told her she had the following options: have an abortion and try again, perform amniocentesis three times weekly (draining fluid from the placenta) or clip the umbilical cord and induce the smaller twin to die so the other twin could live. Perry mentioned that she'd read about laser surgery for TTTS, and the doctor referred her to the Fetal Treatment Program. After meeting doctor Luks, Perry found that her condition was very severe, and she and her husband took 30 seconds to decide to have the surgery. She lost one twin within 24 hours of the surgery, but she gave birth to Casey one month early, who weighed 6 pounds and 11 ounces and is now healthy. Casey has a 3-year-old brother, Aidan.
Paul and Heidi Caruso and 2-year-old twins Brendan and Brody.
Heidi Ramsay Caruso and her husband Paul of Salem, N.H. had been advised by their doctor that, at 23 weeks gestation, they needed to fly to the Midwest the next day to terminate the identical twins she was carrying due to acute twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. After a series of unsuccessful procedures, they had been told that there was no hope to carry the pregnancy to viability and that it was the last and best option to preserve Heidi's health and allow her to get pregnant again.
That night, she went on the Internet and found another option: the Fetal Treatment Program. She left a voicemail at 3 a.m. and got a reply at 7 a.m. that doctors could operate that day, if it was medically appropriate. As her husband drove to Providence from their home in New Hampshire, Caruso was in so much pain that she couldn't sit up. By 2 p.m. she was in surgery. Two weeks later, at 25 weeks gestation, she gave birth prematurely to twin boys, Brendan and Brody, who weighed 1 pound 1 ounce, and 1 pound 11 ounces, respectively. Brody stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for 87 days, and Brendan was there for 99 days. They were both home by their due date. Despite some initial health problems related to their prematurity, both boys are now healthy 2-year-olds. They have a step-brother, Paul Jr., 15, and a step-sister, Alessandra, 13.
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The Fetal Treatment Program specializes in treating twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
The Fetal Treatment Program is a partnership of Hasbro Children's Hospital, Women & Infants' Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.