Johanna’s Story: Finding Real Hope Through Leading-Edge Care
Because of her age, the odds were against Johanna getting pregnant. So when she discovered she was not only pregnant but having twins, she was elated.
At 16 weeks, Johanna received the horrible news that her babies had a very rare condition: twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), which occurs only in identical twins. With TTTS, the placenta shared by the twins has abnormal blood vessels connecting to the babies’ umbilical cords. One twin receives an excess share of blood and amniotic fluid and may develop cardiac failure. The other gets too little and may grow too slowly to survive. Johanna was at risk of losing both.
The doctor she was seeing suggested termination. But Johanna wasn’t willing to give up. She immediately looked for another doctor who might give her reason to hope. Within hours she found and made an appointment with The High Risk Pregnancy Center. During that appointment, Dr. Brian Iriye immediately arranged for her to have a state-of-the-art laser fetal surgery with one of the few practices in the United States that currently treats twin-to-twin transfusion.
Five days later, Johanna was in Florida having laser fetal surgery that involved repairing 13 to 14 of the babies’ blood vessels. By evening, their fluid levels had evened out and their prognosis was excellent. Johanna returned home to Las Vegas and was on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy, getting up only for a weekly doctor’s visit. While the experience was difficult, the outcome was amazing: two healthy baby boys.
Johanna compliments the care she received from with The High Risk Pregnancy Center. “I tell everyone about [Dr. Iriye]. I think he’s a wonderful, wonderful physician and a wonderful human being who cares so much about mothers.
“The doctors at the High Risk Pregnancy Center were amazing. They were like family…I saw the same doctor quite a bit, but I was there so often I saw the others and they were all familiar with my case and my unborn children. Nothing was too small. I had to go to the hospital several times and the doctors would show up if they were on duty or not. I just had great care.”
“I hope my story helps another mother or family who thought they couldn’t’ do it do it,” says Johanna. “Be strong, know there are lots of resources out there, here locally and nationally…and people who care. You can’t just throw these opportunities and these lives away. There’s hope and there are reasons [to fight for our babies’ lives] and my two sons are the reasons. I don’t know what I’d do without them on this earth.”