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Twincredible! Sisters born with life-threatening condition that meant they shared the same blood in the womb make remarkable recovery
16:20 GMT, 12 June 2012
Identical twin sisters born with a rare, life-theatening condition have made a remarkable recovery.
Bessie and Hattie Smith spent 17 weeks fighting for their lives in hospital after being diagnosed with twin-to-twin syndrome (TTTS).
The condition meant the twins shared a blood supply in the womb, which meant one had too much blood while the other had too little.
Happy family: Kelvin and Natalie Smith with their twins Bessie (L) and Hattie (R) and other daughter Tilly
Their mother Natalie Smith, 42, underwent an emergency caesarean
section a month early on February 9, to boost their chances of survival.
They were born at the Royal
Gwent and Nevill Hall hospitals in South Wales with Bessie weighing 3lb 1oz and Hattie weighing 2lb 12 oz.
Mrs Smith, 42, said: 'The first 48 hours of their lives were critical as they were taken away from me for specialist treatment.
'It was a blur. I felt a million miles away and it was two days before I saw them. They were very, very poorly and several times I wondered if they’d make it.'
While pregnant, Mrs Smith said she had a ‘mother’s instinct’ that something wasn’t right because of reduced movement, which was confirmed in a scan.
The twins were diagnosed with TTTS before they were born – a condition that affects as few as 5.5 per cent of identical twin births.
Bessie (L) and Hattie (R) spent 17 weeks fighting for their lives
As a result of sharing a single placenta, blood supplies of the foetuses become connected so they share blood circulation.
Blood can then be transferred disproportionately between the twins – this means one may not have enough blood, which can stunt its development.
The other, in turn, may receive too much, which puts strains on its heart, leading to heart failure.
Before 26 weeks, the condition can cause both foetuses to die or lead to severe disability.
The little girls survived their premature birth and spent four weeks in intensive care and eight weeks on the high-dependency unit, battling for life.
Bessie and Hattie remained on ventilators and had blood transfusions, before they each had their chest drained of excess fluids at just ten days old.
It then took 11 weeks of ‘very, very tough days’ to get them to a point where they could breathe for themselves and they were moved to a growing room to gain strength.
Now, after more than 120 days by their daughters’ bedside, Natalie and Kelvin have taken them home, where the twins’ older sister, Tilly, three, is enjoying being a proud big sister.
Doctors say their long-term outlook is good and they should not suffer any further problems.
Parents Natalie and Kevin, 51, made an emotional tribute to the medical staff who spent more than four months caring for the little girls.
They said: 'The neo-natal staff absolutely saved the girls’ lives and we will be forever grateful – they were all amazing. It was the most traumatic time of our lives.'
Mr Smith said: 'Hospitals sometimes get negative publicity, but both units were absolutely wonderful – they saved our girls’ lives.
'Tilly’s life has been turned upside down, but hospital staff acted like our family.
'Not only did they offer us constant advice and reassurance, they gave Natalie Easter eggs and Mother’s Day cards from the twins.
'They will always have a special place in our hearts for all the work they did.'