Miracle twins beat the odds, thanks to pioneering laser op

Babies milestone after amazing operation in the womb

Babies milestone after amazing operation in the womb

First published in Local News

A MUM’S miracle twin boys are getting stronger each day after being saved in the womb by lifesaving laser surgery.

Nathaniel and Joshua Cavalier reach their four-month “birthday”

this week, despite being given only a 33 per cent chance of survival.

Mum Verena, 32, from Rayleigh, has also seen her twins fight off blood poisoning and meningitis – and only now are they the normal size of newborns.

Verena, a German and Latin teacher at Westcliff High School for Boys, and her husband Paul, 41, have thanked doctors at Southend Hospital, and Professor Kypros Nicolaides at London’s King’s College Hospital for saving her remarkable twins.

Verena said: “They are four months old now. People ask me how old they are and are very surprised when I tell them.

“We owe Professor Nicolaides so much. Without him, we wouldn’t have our boys. We would have lost them.

“We are really grateful to Southend Hospital neonatal unit as well. They were all wonderful there.”

Verena had to undergo an operation after it was found the twins had developed a rare and potentially fatal condition known as twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

The condition, in which one twin receives too much blood from the placenta at the expense of the other, can occur in identical twins whose umbilical cords are attached to a shared placenta.

The condition was spotted by a consultant at Southend Hospital during a routine scan, and sparked an extraordinary sequence of events that saw Verena undergo an operation on the same day.

Verena said: “I was diagnosed with the condition in December, during a scan at 21 weeks into my pregnancy.

“Because the hospital knew I was expecting identical twins, I was having scans every two weeks.

“I was very lucky because it can develop very rapidly and I wasn’t due another scan for a week, butmy consultant said she would do it early as she was going on holiday.

“She spotted signs of the condition and I was told to go to King’s College Hospital in London.

“That was at noon and by 5pm I reached the hospital.

“They did an ultrasound and confirmed the condition.”

Amazingly, an hour later Professor Nicolaides performed the surgery. Verena said: “He inserted a laser into my tummy and severed the connections between the babies to stop one baby taking too much from the other.”

Things moved so rapidly, Verena only just had time to call her husband to let him know she was being operated on.

She added: “One minute I was at Southend Hospital and the next I was on the train.

“My husband was at work so I had to make the decisions myself. He got there just as they started the surgery.

“It was an awful decision to have to make, but there was no time to lose. The longer we waited, the higher the chance the babies could die or be brain damaged.”

The procedure was carried out under a local anaesthetic with Verena fully aware of what was happening to her and her babies.

She said: “They had a camera attached to the laser with a monitor nearby.

“I could see what they were doing. I could see a little hand moving about and I prayed the babies wouldn’t move and get caught by the laser.

“It took 45 minutes and then I was sent to recover in a quiet room. Another scan showed the babies were both well and I was allowed to go home.”

Despite its success, the couple were told the chances of both twins surviving the surgery was only 33 per cent.

They then had to face a 20 per cent chance of a miscarriage over the following six weeks.

Verena added: “I had two miscarriages before, so I was convinced I would lose them.

“I went back to work because I didn’t want to sit at home and panic.

“At 29 weeks, my waters broke.

However, I didn’t go into labour for another two weeks, which gave them vital extra time. I was also given cortisone in that time to help the babies’ lungs develop.”

The twins arrived on February 12 by caesarean section.

Nathaniel weighed 3.12lbs and his brother Joshua weighed in at just 3.1lbs. Both had to overcome a potentially fatal infection of the stomach and blood poisoning, but survived thanks to Southend Hospital’s neonatal unit.

They went home to be with their little sister, two-year-old Magdalena, on March 9, but had to return after catching bacterial meningitis.

However, the little fighters came through once again and now weigh in at 8.3lbs and 6.10lbs respectively.

potentially fatal condition known as twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

The condition, in which one twin receives too much blood from the placenta at the expense of the other, can occur in identical twins whose umbilical cords are attached to a shared placenta.

The condition was spotted by a consultant at Southend Hospital during a routine scan, and sparked an extraordinary sequence of events that saw Verena undergo an operation on the same day.

Verena said: “I was diagnosed with the condition in December, during a scan at 21 weeks into my pregnancy.

“Because the hospital knew I was expecting identical twins, I was having scans every two weeks.

“I was very lucky because it can develop very rapidly and I wasn’t due another scan for a week, butmy consultant said she would do it early as she was going on holiday.

“She spotted signs of the condition and I was told to go to King’s College Hospital in London.

“That was at noon and by 5pm I reached the hospital.

“They did an ultrasound and confirmed the condition.”

Amazingly, an hour later Professor Nicolaides performed the surgery. Verena said: “He inserted a laser into my tummy and severed the connections between the babies to stop one baby taking too much from the other.”

Things moved so rapidly, Verena only just had time to call her husband to let him know she was being operated on.

She added: “One minute I was at Southend Hospital and the next I was on the train.

“My husband was at work so I had to make the decisions myself. He got there just as they started the surgery.

“It was an awful decision to have to make, but there was no time to lose. The longer we waited, the higher the chance the babies could die or be brain damaged.”

The procedure was carried out under a local anaesthetic with Verena fully aware of what was happening to her and her babies.

She said: “They had a camera attached to the laser with a monitor nearby.

“I could see what they were doing. I could see a little hand moving about and I prayed the babies wouldn’t move and get caught by the laser.

“It took 45 minutes and then I was sent to recover in a quiet room. Another scan showed the babies were both well and I was allowed to go home.”

Despite its success, the couple were told the chances of both twins surviving the surgery was only 33 per cent.

They then had to face a 20 per cent chance of a miscarriage over the following six weeks.

Verena added: “I had two miscarriages before, so I was convinced I would lose them.

“I went back to work because I didn’t want to sit at home and panic.

“At 29 weeks, my waters broke.

However, I didn’t go into labour for another two weeks, which gave them vital extra time. I was also given cortisone in that time to help the babies’ lungs develop.”

The twins arrived on February 12 by caesarean section.

Nathaniel weighed 3.12lbs and his brother Joshua weighed in at just 3.1lbs. Both had to overcome a potentially fatal infection of the stomach and blood poisoning, but survived thanks to Southend Hospital’s neonatal unit.

They went home to be with their little sister, two-year-old Magdalena, on March 9, but had to return after catching bacterial meningitis.

However, the little fighters came through once again and now weigh in at 8.3lbs and 6.10lbs respectively.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree