Abu Dhabi: Advanced laser procedures have saved the lives of two sets of identical twins in Abu Dhabi who shared a single placenta in their respective mother’s womb.
Twins conceived in such a manner are known as monochorionic twins and 15 per cent of them can be at risk of Twin-to-Twin Infusion Syndrome (TTTS), a rare and potentially fatal condition that occurs because the shared placenta causes unbalanced blood supply to each foetus.
Doctors at Corniche Hospital — part of Abu Dhabi’s public health-care network under the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) — successfully performed the novel fetoscopic laser procedures to save both sets of unborn twins. The highly complex procedures involve entering the womb through the mother’s belly, and coagulating the placental vessels that cause TTTS.
Without such intervention, there is a near 100 per cent chance that the pregnancy will be lost in case of severe TTTS. On the other hand, the laser procedures can help two babies survive the pregnancy in 70 per cent of cases and help at least one baby survive in 90 per cent of cases.
Noor Alsamrai, 32, was one of the mothers who delivered healthy twins after undergoing the procedure. Baby Ibrahim Albairaq and Baby Abdallah Albairaq were born on March 16. Alsamrai had been treated previously at Corniche Hospital’s Advanced Foetal Medicine Unit after TTTS was diagnosed in week 15 of her pregnancy.
“I was so scared and uncertain about the outcome, but meeting Dr Leanne Bricker, [chair of the foetal medicine and imaging, and consultant in foetal and maternal medicine at Corniche Hospital] provided me with much-needed assurance given their level of expertise and knowledge. The team was in control throughout the procedure and I am grateful to the outstanding care I received,” Alsamrai said.
“It’s been a year since I had the procedure at 18 weeks of pregnancy. Compared to my hometown in Sweden, I was impressed with the fast diagnosis, advanced treatment and smooth coordination between Corniche and the referring hospital here in the UAE. I would encourage mothers with monochorionic twins to have their pregnancy follow-up done with the right doctors to identify any issue early on,” she added.
Maitha Almheiri, gave birth to Emirati twins, Mohammed Alshamsi and Ahmed Alshamsi. She had been treated at the hospital after TTTS was diagnosed at 24 weeks’ gestation.
“I was feeling tired, unable to breathe or eat properly. I felt bloated and had contractions. I was then referred to the Corniche Hospital for the laser procedure. I didn’t hesitate even for a second after speaking to Dr Bricker and her team,” Almheiri said.
“After the procedure, I felt relieved. [In fact,] I started feeling and breathing better even while still in the operating room under local anaesthesia. The support and approach of the team at Corniche Hospital provided the ultimate relief and my babies were born on May 16,” she added.
“We strongly advise women pregnant with monochorionic twins to have their ultrasound examinations and follow-up undertaken by a foetal medicine specialist who has the expertise and knowledge to identify potential problems on an ultrasound scan early in the pregnancy,” Dr Bricker advised.
The hospital is one of the few facilities in the region offering advanced diagnostic services for unborn children, as well as complex foetal therapy to treat foetal abnormalities and diseases in-utero.
“The experts at the Advanced Foetal Medicine Unit have trained and practised in the UK and Germany. They have performed around 122 novel fetoscopic laser procedures, achieving outcomes comparable to major Foetal Medicine Units worldwide and marking a legacy of proficiency and expertise in foetal therapy in Abu Dhabi,” said Dr Werner Diehl, division chief at the hospital’s Advanced Foetal Medicine Centre.