AN ISLE of Wight family has spoken about how their twin babies' lives were saved, thanks to the extraordinary care they received after a rare condition was discovered.

“Professor Asma saved our babies’ lives, there’s no doubt about that,” said Nichola Luther, whose twin boys were born on April 4, 2020, at the start of the Covid pandemic.

Nichola, 42, and husband Pete, 44, of Wootton, were thrilled to discover they were having twins, two little brothers for their son Sebastian.

But at 18 weeks a pregnancy scan picked up a 22 per cent difference in the twins’ sizes and two weeks later a 29 per cent difference.

A scan at 24 weeks and blood flow in the brain levels tested at Southampton Hospital was when the consultant, Dr Raji Parasuraman contacted the team at St George’s Hospital in London and spoke with Professor Basky Thilaganathan, famed for his work which is aired on Channel 4's Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles. He wanted them to be seen immediately by the fetal team.

“This was the first time we met Professor Asma Khalil who diagnosed a condition called TAPS,” said Nichola.

“Asma was very calm and reassuring, speaking to us about options but at this point one of the twins, Asher, was showing signs of cardiac distress so we had to be quick with our decision.

“As TAPS is so rare there is not much evidence on outcomes but we knew we had to have the laser surgery or lose one or possibly both babies.”

It can be defined as a slow transfer of blood between the babies making one baby anaemic (low blood levels) and the other polycythaemic (high blood levels).

After the successful laser surgery, Nichola was closely monitored, only leaving the house for scans and check-ups, but at 28 weeks her waters broke.

Nichola faced a dilemma. She knew she was unable to have the babies on the Island, as they needed a neonatal unit with more advanced care. That’s when the coastguard stepped in!

“We went to St Mary’s Hospital and Pete, myself and a midwife were flown across to Southampton — we joked it was exciting and very worrying at the same time.”

Meanwhile the Covid pandemic was raging.

“Pete had been with me but suddenly visitors were banned and on top of that I wouldn’t be able to see our little boy Sebby, only two years old, who was being looked after by my parents on the Island, for a very long time. So I was alone and missed them both terribly.

“Our lifesaver was when one of the midwives arranged for Pete to stay in her friend’s flat who was also a midwife, but in New Zealand and unable to come back. So he’d at least be able to be at the birth.”

A few days later, at 29 weeks, Nichola needed an emergency c-section.

“Pete was able to be with me, but the boys were taken straight afterwards to neonatal and I saw them about five hours later. Pete wasn’t allowed to see them, it was heartbreaking, and he didn’t get to see them at all for four weeks.”

Asher weighed 2lbs10 and Leo 1lb15 and spent just under four weeks in Southampton.

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“I was discharged after five days but only one parent was allowed in so while I could see Pete and stayed with him at the flat, he wasn’t able to see his boys and we were missing Sebby desperately.”

The boys were then moved to St Mary's Hospital, and the family were reunited.

“After a week home, Pete was able to see the boys every day and I established breastfeeding. The boys thrived and we took them home on May 25.

"Leo was 4lbs and Asher 4lb 6oz, so still tiny and there were a few hurdles to overcome, but they are just amazing, happy, gorgeous miracles.”

Nichola is passionate about raising awareness of TAPS and also wants mums to be reassured by her story.

“TAPS really is incredibly rare and I hope that across the country fetal medicine teams and all health practitioners who deal with multiple births will continue to learn more about the condition through the excellent work of Asma and her team, which will lead to saving more babies like Asher and Leo.

"Thank you Asma for saving our babies, we will be forever grateful.”

More than 1,500 healthcare professionals have benefitted from the expertise of Professor Asma, clinical lead at the Twins Trust Centre of Research and Clinical Excellence.

The charity partnered with St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help all maternity units in the UK improve care and save babies’ lives.

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