Elizabeth and Todd's story
After losing their twin boys, Max and Noah, to the very rare twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in 2015, Todd and Elizabeth Daly realised just how many babies are lost preterm and how special a full term baby really is.
In WA alone, nearly 3000 babies are born preterm each year – approximately 1 in 12 pregnancies ends preterm. Rates of preterm birth among Aboriginal Australians and disadvantaged communities are approximately double.
“It was explained to us that twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) was a rare and serious condition that can occur in pregnancies where identical twins share a placenta,” Elizabeth said.
“We were told that due to the condition largely not being that well understood that things could change very quickly within the term of the pregnancy.”
Halfway through the pregnancy, Elizabeth underwent placental ablation surgery at King Edward Memorial Hospital in a bid to save the twins. This complicated surgery is only performed in Western Australia on average 10 times a year and has varying rates of success. Unfortunately, the surgery was not successful in this case and the twins passed away the following day.
Following their heart-breaking loss, the couple have battled multiple rounds of IVF and a cervical cancer diagnosis for Elizabeth which put their family dreams on hold for a year during treatment and recovery. Their determination and strength would pay off in spades as the couple welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby boy into their lives on Boxing Day last year.
“Preterm birth is something that can affect anyone and TTTS isn’t something we considered even after we found out we were having twins,” Todd said.
“Awareness is the key for all new and returning parents because at the end of the day all we ever want is a happy and healthy family.”
To learn more about the key health interventions to prevent preterm birth visit The Whole Nine Months website.
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and the rise of multiple births
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) affects identical twins who share a common placenta that contain abnormal blood vessels, which connect the umbilical cords and circulations of the twins. The complication of twins receiving differing blood flows can mean that one of the babies can receive too much blood, which would affect the heart as it would need to work overtime to process it all, while the other twin wouldn’t receive enough, effectively starving growth and development.
Since the 1980s, there has been a 60% increase in twins and a 400% increase in triplets in Australia. Twin pregnancies are much more likely to be complicated by preterm birth than single ones and for the babies to be of low birth weight.