A 21-year-old young woman from the Palestinian Authority has just learned that the identical twin daughters she is carrying are thriving thanks to the intervention of a Hadassah Medical Center fetal medicine specialist.
The woman had found out in her sixth month that the pregnancy was at risk. Her twins had “twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome,” a rare but serious complication that occurs in identical twins when blood flows from one baby to the other through their shared blood vessels on the placenta, often proving fatal for both babies.
A local doctor sent her to one expert after another until she was referred ultimately to Dr. Firas Jawdat, the fetal medicine specialist of the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Firas had trained with Hadassah's fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Yuval Gielchinsky, who had acquired his expertise by studying in London with the world expert of this field, Prof. Kypros Nicolaides. It was Dr. Gielchinsky who established the fetal medicine unit at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem four years ago, which includes an advanced ultrasound machine and the necessary Laser equipment to treat the problem. Because Dr. Firas did not have the equipment at his hospital, he asked if his patient could be treated at Hadassah.
Dr. Gielchinsky explains: In twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, the baby which receives the blood from the other twin becomes overloaded with blood and suffers from heart failure, while his/her sibling loses his blood. About 10 to 15 percent of identical twins develop this condition, he reports. The syndrome, however, can now be treated through an intra-uterine operation, performed under epidural anesthesia. Using a very delicate technique in which a fetoscope (a small optic fiber) is inserted into the womb, the communicating vessels between the two babies are identified and destroyed.
The young Palestinian woman received the life-saving treatment at Hadassah. Each baby was successfully left with its own separate part of the placenta. Recuperating in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, she relates: "We come from a rural background in Jenin. My husband works in agriculture. I'd never been in such a beautiful place and received such wonderful care."