If you could pick where to spend your birthday, where would you go? For the family of a one-year-old Wisconsin girl, it’s the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The Davis family chose the hospital so they could be with the care team that gave their daughter, Amelia, a chance at life more than a year ago.
“She’s very smart, look at her!” said Dr. Rodrigo Ruano, who saw Amelia for the first time since she was born.
Amelia is a miracle baby; one who almost didn’t survive in utero.
The birthday celebration proved to be a powerful one for Valarie Davis, Amelia’s mom. “It’s very emotional. [We’re] overjoyed. It brings it all together of how close we were to her not being her,” she said.
When Valarie was pregnant, she learned her twin daughters Amelia and Lilian had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, more commonly referred to as TTTS. It’s a rare and serious condition that can happen when twins share a placenta. One twin becomes dehydrated while the other develops high blood pressure and makes too much urine, which over fills the amniotic sac.
To make matters worse, her husband, Kevin, was deployed in Korea. Fortunately, he did make it back to see his second child’s birth.
“We can lose the entire pregnancy about 80 percent of the time. Once we do the laser [fetoscopic laser ablation], we can have 70 to 80 percent chance of having one or two babies alive,” added Dr. Ruano.
According to Mayo Clinic, “the laser surgery seals the vessels shut and disconnects them permanently. This procedure has been considered the standard of care for severe TTTS, with most groups reporting survival of at least one twin in 80 to 90 percent of cases and a three to five percent rate of neurological impairment among survivors after prenatal treatment. Dual survival (survival of both recipient and donor), however, remains lower, at approximately 50 percent.”
Valarie had the fetoscopic laser ablation to disconnect the vessels between the twins. Her daughter Lillian died, but Amelia survived. “I was here for eight days and the staff here became my surrogate family,” she said.
One year after Amelia’s birth at 36 weeks, the Davis family knew they wanted to travel to Rochester to spend Amelia’s first birthday with the care team who gave her a chance at life. “Doctor Ruano said if this miracle baby survives we’re going to have chocolate cake. I’ve always remembered that,” laughed Valarie.
Not only did they have chocolate cake; the care team bought Amelia a gift as well: pink scrubs with the hospital’s insignia on it.
“She looks great, she looks happy, healthy,” smiled Dr. Ruano.