Saturday, November 03, 2007

The baby that refused to die

We're twinseparable! Happy with his brother, the boy who refused to die

When Rebecca Jones learned, 10 weeks into her pregnancy, that she was carrying twins, she and her husband were excited, "over the moon."

Then an ultrasound at 20 weeks revealed heartbreaking trouble. One twin, Gabriel, was half the size of his brother Ieuan. His heart was enlarged to three times its normal size. Doctors feared that Gabriel would suffer a heart attack or stroke and die in the womb, endangering Ieuan's life. They recommended a procedure to beat the Grim Reaper to the ailing baby, certain that this would pose less threat to the healthy twin's life.

Rebecca was heartbroken. Doctors told her there was no way Gabriel could live even if he survived to birth. They presented the choice to Rebecca as between risking the life of the healthy child in order to possibly have Gabriel be born alive but die alone, versus a quick death in utero with his brother at his side. This convinced Rebecca that the procedure would be best for both babies.

So when Rebecca was 25 weeks pregnant, doctors tried to sever Gabriel's umbilical cord, thus cutting off his blood supply and killing him. But the cord was too tough to cut through. So they decided to divide the placenta, thus severing the connection between the twins, figuring that Gabriel would quicky die and Ieuan could survive.

A grieving Rebecca put her hands over her gravid belly, saying her goodbyes to her unborn son.

But the next morning, Rebecca could still feel both babies kicking. Doctors were astonished when they could still hear two heartbeats. Doctors dubbed the feisty little fetus "Rocky". And as time went on, Gabriel gained weight and his heart started to reduce in size.

Doctors believe that dividing the placenta may have evened out the imbalance between the twins, allowing Gabriel to get the nutrients he needed.

At 31 weeks, the boys were delivered by c-section. Ieuan weighed in at 3 pounds 8 ounces, and Gabriel at 1 pound 12 ounces. After a NICU stay, the boys went home. Now, at seven months of age, Ieuan weighs 15 pounds and Gabriel 12 pounds 6 ounces.

Rebecca says that the boys always stay close, always holding hands. "The boys are so healthy, they have huge appetites too. Ieuan is the noisy one, while Gabriel is always laughing, it's like he's just so happy to be here. There is such a strong bond between them. They are always holding hands and if one cries, the other reaches out to comfort him. Doctors tried to break their bond in the womb, but they just proved it couldn't be broken."

And, God willing, doctors will use what Gabriel taught them to save other babies with similar problems.


Samara said...

I did a media search on the topic & mother mentioned in this article and it seems to be a hoax- the Daily Mail (a notorious UK tabloid) is the only original news source that mentioned this story, making it very suspect. Also dubious are the claims that the umbilical cord was "too tough to sever"- are they kidding? Is this baby now crawling around with a yard-long belly button, dragging a dried-up placenta behind him, because the cord was "too tough to sever"? :)
Also, damaging a shared placenta would imperil the lives of both twins, not just one. I think we can safely sign this one off to hasty acceptance of another abortion "horror story".

Christina Dunigan said...

Good work, samara. I'll take another look at it.