Valley Children's Hospital doctors provide life-saving treatment for Tulare twins

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Thursday, August 12, 2021
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The twins' mother was diagnosed with a condition known as TAPS, Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence. The condition can be dangerous.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amelia and Audra love their tummy time and their toys.

Like all babies, they have their cranky moments.

Their parents are patient and grateful because it wasn't too long ago their daughters were in double trouble.

"Mommy has two babies inside? There's two babies!" The camera captures special moments when a family learns twins are on the way.

"I met her outside by the car, and she says we're going to have to get a bigger car," said Spencer Shannon, Amelia and Audra's father.

Images also capture when something isn't quite right.

"The first thing that they noticed was that one of the twins was growing at a slower rate, she was smaller in size as well," said Jessica Shannon, the twins' mother.

Jessica Shannon was referred to Valley Children's Hospital. Specialists at the Maternal-Fetal Center are trained in complex pregnancies.

Jessica was diagnosed with a condition known as TAPS, Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence.

"This is a case where actually one baby is slowly giving blood to the other baby," said Dr. James Hole.

The condition can be dangerous.

"Babies and adults, for that matter, don't do particularly well with an excess of blood cells and an excess of volume in the bloodstream. It puts a tremendous strain on the heart," Dr. Hole said.

Baby Amelia was getting too much blood while Baby Audra was becoming anemic.

Dr. Hole is experienced in intrauterine blood transfusions, and this is the only local hospital where it's offered.

RELATED: Futures Worth Fighting For Telethon benefiting Valley Children's Hospital

"We actually wanted to put the blood into the baby's abdominal cavity.

The baby absorbs the blood out of its abdominal cavity, gets the benefit from the anemia improving a bit, and the blood goes more slowly to the other baby which buys us time," Hole said.

Every week counts.

"We had a goal to make it to 32 weeks, so you know at 28 weeks I'm like OK, you know, we've got this, and we made it to 31," Jessica said.

Audra and Amelia spent two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

"Amelia was very red because of the excess blood cells she was getting. Audra was very white, very light," Spencer said.

There were some days it was hard, you know, seeing them hooked up to all the wires and the alarms and stuff that they have there," Jessica said.

The NICU became a home away from home for these Tulare parents, who learned how to hold and care for their tiny twins.

"I can never thank them enough for all that they did for, for my girls."

The twins are eight months old and teething. Big sister Adoline loves her baby sisters.

And the Shannons will never forget the people who saved their little ones and kept their family together.

The Shannon Twins are getting bigger and reaching milestones.

You can help support the hospital that's changing lives. Click here to learning more about the Futures Worth Fighting For Telethon benefiting Valley Children's Hospital.