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Rare twins celebrate Christmas

Published:  23 December 2021

The Leith family Christmas was anything but restful last year after Hannah and Stephen Leith’s pre-term twin baby girls came home after a 59-day stay in Townsville University Hospital’s neonatal unit following a rare diagnosis during pregnancy where one twin was not receiving enough red blood cells to grow.

Known as twin anaemia polycythaemia sequence (TAPS), it is the rarest complication of identical twin pregnancy. 

This Christmas will be a different story, though, with Kobe and Lacey receiving full marks at their one-year growth and development check-up at the neonatal unit.

Hannah said she was looking forward to a restful and happy celebration this year, free of worry about the babies’ health.

“We were discharged on 8 December last year after more than eight weeks in the neonatal unit, but we were back in a few days before Christmas as Lacey needed a little procedure, so it really wasn’t about presents and Santa,” she said.

This Christmas, though, Hannah, Stephen, and the twins’ big brother Cooper, seven, are looking forward to relaxing family festivities.

“The past 12 months have been very full on,” Hannah said.

“It’s been a whole new experience having two at the same time, but it’s been kind of helpful because they look after each other,” she said.

Townsville University Hospital fetal maternal medicine specialist Dr David Watson said he saw one mother every three or four years with TAPS.

“TAPS is a rare complication of identical twin pregnancy and occurs in between three and five per cent of cases,” he said.

Dr Watson said the condition was detected during a routine scan.

“We scan mothers with single-placenta twin pregnancies, like Hannah’s, every two weeks to check for twin-to-twin transfusion (where the blood flow is unbalanced between the twins), restricted fetal growth (where the twins are not growing or one is growing at a difference pace), and TAPS which is rarer,” he said.

Kobe and Lacey were delivered 10 weeks premature on 30 October 2020 and cared for in the neonatal unit.

Acting director of neonatology Professor Yoga Kandasamy, who was part of the medical team at the twins’ birth, said it was wonderful to see them 12 months on happy and healthy.

“Our staff were delighted to see them again before Christmas and marvel at how far they have come,” he said.

“Christmas is a special time for families, and it is such a joy for us to see our babies and their families together at this time of year.”

Hannah said she couldn’t thank the staff in the neonatal unit enough.

“Everyone in the unit is so welcoming and warm; it’s such a peaceful part of the hospital and we’re so grateful for their love and care for our whole family,” she said.

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