ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs Saved By Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ In The Womb

Tucked up snugly side by side, these beautiful ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs look a picture of health. But their lives were saved by a ʀɪsᴋʏ Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ performed while they were still in the womb after they developed a rare condition which ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴋɪʟʟ them all. Thanks to the skill of surgeons who performed the delicate Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, all three girls sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇᴅ the surgery and were born tiny but healthy.

ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs Eilah, Erin and Elsie were delivered safely in October, when they weighed 3lbs 1oz, 2lbs 12oz and 2lbs respectively. Smallest triplet Elsie was so tiny that her parents were warned she might have to stay in hospital for several months but – to their delight – she thrived and was allowed home on Christmas Eve. Mother Laura Slinger, 26, said: ‘We have three healthy daughters and that’s the best Christmas present anyone could ask for.’ Miss Slinger, a beauty salon manager who lives near Burnley, Lancashire, and her partner Martyn Halliwell were thrilled when they discovered they were expecting ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs, conceived naturally without ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ. But 17 weeks into the ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ doctors treating Miss Slinger detected a problem with the ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ between two of the babies.

Although all three were growing in the womb together, two of the girls Eilah and Elsie were identical Tᴡɪɴs and sharing their ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ from the placenta. They were diagnosed with Tᴡɪɴ to Tᴡɪɴ Tʀᴀɴsꜰᴜsɪᴏɴ Sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ (TTTS), a rare condition where one Tᴡɪɴ gets too much of the ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ, while the other Tᴡɪɴ is effectively starved of nutrients. Smaller Tᴡɪɴ Elsie was at risk of not developing properly while her bigger sister Eilah was receiving too great a share of the ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ, putting a strain on her developing heart. Although the independent triplet, Erin, was not affected by the shared ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ, her life could have been in danger if the condition led to an ɪɴꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏᴍʙ or ᴘʀᴇᴍᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ ʟᴀʙᴏᴜʀ, or if the surgery went wrong.

The girls were initially due to be born in January but doctors scanned Miss Slinger every week after the Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ and delivered the ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in October. Their ᴘʀᴇᴍᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ ʙɪʀᴛʜ meant they were all kept in hospital for weeks and they were transferred to Burnley General Hospital to be closer to their parents’ home. Eilah and Erin were allowed home in early December but smallest triplet Elsie had to stay on oxygen in hospital. She was finally discharged on Christmas Eve, meaning the family were able to spend their first Christmas together at home, and now weighs 5lbs although she is still smaller than her 7lb sisters.

They’d had a battle for survival which began in the womb and they have fought all the way through. We are so proud of them. Life is a bit manic now they’re all at home. Erin sleeps a lot but the Tᴡɪɴs seem to set each other off every time one of them starts to cry, but we are so happy. It’s the best possible Christmas present. Consultant obstetrician Dr Bhide, who performed the Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ to separate the babies’ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sᴜᴘᴘʟʏ, said he was delighted all three ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs were born safely. He said he had only carried out a handful of such Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴs, saying: ‘It is a rare Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ in Tᴡɪɴs and even rarer in ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs as each normally have their own placenta. It is a tricky Oᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ with ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs as the extra baby and its placenta can make reaching the other two babies difficult. I’m delighted that the ᴛʀɪᴘʟᴇᴛs have been born healthy and safe.

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