Miracle of twins born two months early

CUDDLING one of his tiny bundles of joy, this photograph captures a moment an Ipswich father feared may never happen.Philip Marner, 38, and his wife Wincy, also 38, are today beaming with love for their identical twin girls Summer and Bronte.

CUDDLING one of his tiny bundles of joy, this photograph captures a moment an Ipswich father feared may never happen.

Philip Marner, 38, and his wife Wincy, also 38, are today beaming with love for their identical twin girls Summer and Bronte.

But, speaking to The Evening Star, Mr Marner told of the fear, stress and anxiety the couple endured when they were told the babies would have to be delivered nine weeks early.

The girls were due to be born this week but because of complications Mrs Marner had to have a Caesarean section on December 15.

Bronte's birth weight was just 2.2lb while Summer weighed in at 3.4lb and both babies went straight into intensive care.

The pair were suffering twin to twin transfusion syndrome, unique only to identical twins, where the babies share blood vessels in the placenta.

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If left untreated the syndrome has a mortality rate of more than 80 per cent.

Mr Marner, an IT consultant who grew up in Westbourne but is now living in Australia, said: “We had wanted to have children for some time so when I found out we were having a baby it was great news.

“However there were a few complications with the pregnancy and it was a stressful rollercoaster of a ride.

“One of the babies was quite a lot smaller than the other so every fortnight we had to go for ultrasounds.

“On December 13 my wife went for an ultrasound and they noticed a change in the growth of the babies.

“Their growth had actually stopped.

“The doctors decided it was time to deliver them rather than wait for my wife to go into labour.

“We learned it might not be as positive as we wanted it to be but within 20 minutes of the birth the doctors were able to tell us that both babies were healthy.”

The twins went straight into intensive care on incubators because their lungs were not strong enough for them to breathe on their own.

However they have grown in strength and both now weigh roughly twice their birth weight.

Mr Marner said he is eternally grateful to medics at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where the twins were born.

He said: “Without their expertise, both Summer and Bronte may not have survived.”

“We are so happy with our babies.”





In summary: Twin to twin transfusion syndrome

Twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a disease of identical twin foetuses caused by abnormal connecting blood vessels in the twins' placenta resulting in an imbalanced flow of blood from one twin to another.

The implications of this are very serious for the survival and health of both twins.

The recipient twin (often larger) becomes effectively overloaded with the extra blood supply. His or her heart has to work harder to pump the enriched blood around, which can result in heart failure.

The donor twin (often smaller) becomes anaemic due to not having enough blood supply, and usually has a small amniotic sac (the bag of fluid in which the baby lives).

The sac is often very close to the developing baby's body, and the baby appears to be almost shrink-wrapped and "stuck" up against the wall of the uterus.

If left untreated, TTTS has a mortality rate of more than 80pc and can be the root cause of severe handicaps for the few survivors.

Premature babies:

n> A normal pregnancy lasts between 38 and 40 weeks, with any baby born under 37 weeks gestation classed as premature,

n> More than 90pc of premature babies who weigh 800 grams (a little less than two pounds) or more survive.

n> Those who weigh more than 500 grams (a little more than 1 pound) have a 40pc to 50pc chance of survival.

n> Premature babies have less time to fully develop and build strength in the womb. As a result they're often at increased risk of medical and developmental problems.

n> They are also at higher risk of developing difficulties with their breathing because their lungs are underdeveloped.

n> In addition, they may be less able to cope with infections or other illnesses. They are also prone to anaemia and low blood pressure.

n> In most cases the cause of premature labour is unknown. However, it can be linked to medical complications developed by the mother.

n> Other factors may include maternal stress, and infection.

n> Three groups of women are known to be at risk of giving birth prematurely: women who are pregnant with twins, triplets or more; women who have had a previous preterm birth and women with certain uterine or cervical abnormalities.