Parents of Twin to Twin Transfusion (TTTS) Survivors to Host Awareness Night at St. Louis Cardinals Game Saturday, Sept. 7

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The Colp twins almost lost their life to TTTS before they were born, but an innovative fetal surgery at the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute gave them the chance at life. Their parents hope this baseball game will build awareness of the availability of the surgery and help save lives.

SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center | St. Louis Fetal Care Institute

St Louis Fetal Care Institute

When Aiden and Blake Colp's mother Theresa was 21 weeks pregnant with them, they rapidly developed life-threatening TTTS. “It was so severe that I needed surgery at the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute the day I was diagnosed,” Colp says.

TTTS is a prenatal condition in which twins share unequal amounts of the placenta’s blood supply, resulting in them growing at different rates. This impacts the twins’ blood flow, and can be deadly to both babies.

Using minimally invasive fetal laser surgery, doctors can stop the negative impacts of TTTS while the babies are still in the womb. The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is one of the few fetal care centers in the United States to offer this procedure.

During the surgery, a laser is used to block the shared blood vessels. The surgeon inserts a pencil-tip-sized telescope in the mother’s uterus and examines the entire placenta to find the crossing blood vessels. Once these are all mapped, a tiny laser fiber is inserted and laser energy is used to stop the blood flow between the twins.

“Separating the twin blood flow could be compared to separating the placenta, allowing each twin to develop independently,” says Dr. Mike Vlastos, director of the Fetal Care Institute.

Because of the high-risk nature of her pregnancy, Colp was placed on bed rest after her surgery, and then hospitalized for nine weeks before giving birth at 37 weeks. “Because of the Fetal Care Institute, I felt like I had my own team of specialists at my side 24/7 throughout the pregnancy,” Colp says.

On October Oct. 14, 2012, the night of a St. Louis Cardinal's playoff game, Theresa and her husband David welcomed two healthy boys into the world via Cesarean section. “Their follow-up appointments aren’t showing any signs of defects,” Colp says. “There is very little size difference between the boys, which is common among TTTS babies. In fact, many days, my husband, daughter, and I have a hard time telling them apart,” says Colp.

“The boys are a glowing example of the importance of consistent monitoring and prenatal care, especially in the case of twins,” says Vlastos. “Without this, and the immediate access to fetal surgery they may not be here today.”

To help build awareness, the Colp family is hosting a TTTS Awareness Night with the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sept. 7. “Until we went through this experience we had no idea that there were treatment options for rare diseases like this in St. Louis,” Colp says. “We want to help make families aware that there are true professionals right here with the experience to help.”

Proceeds from the baseball game will benefit the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute, to help future families who face a TTTS diagnosis.

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About The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute
The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is a partnership between SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, and Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Bringing together renowned maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists, pediatric and fetal surgeons, specialized nurses, cutting-edge technology, and a family-oriented approach, The Institute offers state-of-the-art diagnostic methods and treatment options for families whose unborn babies are facing medical challenges. It is the leading comprehensive fetal care program in Middle America offering a variety of fetal interventions and treatments, including open and minimally invasive fetal surgery for babies in the womb.

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Ashley Wiehle
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