NORFOLK -- A first-of-its-kind procedure in Hampton Roads saved the lives of twins before they were even born.
Crystal Springer was 22 weeks pregnant when she and husband Nick, a sailor on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, learned the babies had a rare condition called Twin Twin Transfusion Syndrome. That's when one of the fetuses gives up most of its blood and nutrients to the other through shared blood vessels on the placenta.
They went right from the doctor's office to Eastern Virginia Medical School to meet with Jena Miller, MD, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. She recommended a laser procedure - performed in the womb - to separate the blood vessels.
It wasn't without risk. Doing nothing meant one or both of the twins would likely die, but the procedure wasn't a guarantee, either.
“Every day, you live in fear,” said Springer, who said Dr. Miller was up front and honest about the risks.
“We could lose one or both of them during the procedure,” Springer recalled. “They could have still been premature and there were concerns about brain damage and heart problems as a result of the condition.”
The operation was performed on December 9, 2013 and on February 21, Ella and Anna were born - just 32 weeks old.
After six weeks in the Special Care Nursery at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, they finally went home and are doing well.
Doctors say the little girls should develop normally.