First in-utero surgery in Hampton Roads saves twins

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Ella and Anna Springer haven’t even reached their due date, and already they’ve made history. They are the first twins to have a specific life-saving surgery in Hampton Roads while still in their Mother’s womb.

The girl’s parents, Crystal and Nick Springer, learned there was a problem at their 22-week ultrasound appointment. The twins were diagnosed with a rare condition called Twin Twin Transfusion Syndrome, meaning there was a connection between the babies blood vessels on their shared placenta, and one of their girls was giving up most of her blood and nutrients to the other.Springer2burping

The Springers were sent to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department at Eastern Virginia Medical School where they met with Dr. Jena Miller.

“Most of the time there is balance between the circulation of the twins, but on occasion this becomes skewed and one twin has more volume in its circulation than the other,” Miller said.

She recommended a laser procedure to separate the blood vessels while the twins were in-utero. Still, there was no guarantee, and Crystal Springer remembers the fear: “The chances of losing one or both babies was high risk.”

Photos: Twins saved by in-utero procedure

But it was the same risk as doing nothing at all. Crystal told she had to do something: “I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself to think, ‘oh, I did nothing and still  lost them.'”

So, on December 9, Dr. Miller performed the first TTTS procedure at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

“I  just went to sleep and dreamed good dreams,” Crystal told 10 On Your Side.

Springer HomeAnd when she woke up, her dreams had come true. Ella and Anna thrived inside their mother’s womb for two and half more months. They were born prematurely, but healthy, on February 21.

“Everybody just wants to meet them,” Crystal said. “They don’t even know how much of a big deal they are.”

But one day Crystal said she will tell them how they made history and helped future parents and babies too.

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