A few years ago, we brought you the story of Bella and Mila Winkler, twin girls whose introduction to the world began with a long stay at our NICU. The girls are now busy five-year olds. We hope you enjoy this update to their story.
Only 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Jaime Winkler and her husband Sean learned their daughters had stage four twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. This meant that one twin was underdeveloped and the other overdeveloped. Even worse, there was a severe risk of heart failure in one of the twins. So on August 18, 2015 the terrified mother underwent an emergency delivery to help give her girls a fighting chance. The twins spent over 130 days in the NICU at the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care, at Regina General Hospital. Today, we are happy to report that Bella and Mila are now happy, thriving 5 year olds, enjoying life at home with their family. The twins have both completed their first year of Pre-K, but due to COVID-19 restrictions and their continuing health concerns, are currently being homeschooled.
“Homeschooling has been beneficial for the girls as it’s allowed them to learn at their own pace.” Jaime explains. “They are reading, their gross motor skills are improving and they are adapting really well. Our daughters are now succeeding and excelling in everything they do. “They are everything they were never supposed to be, and that is thanks to all of the incredible care they received in Regina’s NICU.”
Bella and Mila’s journey, though, is not over since the twins’ medical conditions still include Cerebral Palsy which is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture, and dystonia, a movement disorder in which a person's muscles contract uncontrollably. In addition, they experience hydrocephalus, a condition in which an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid occurs within the brain, causing increased pressure within the skull, and gastro intestinal issues. The girls continue to receive care from their pediatrician and from a variety of specialists through the Children’s Program at Wascana Rehabiliation Centre (WRC). They continue to attend various clinical appointments and recreational therapy treatments, albeit a bit differently due to COVID-19.
“With myself and the girls being immunocompromised we can’t just visit the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre for therapy appointments or just go to the doctor’s office, so we actually have our visits virtually”, Jaime says. “The therapy team at Wascana has been absolutely amazing in setting up virtual therapy appointments and being able to interact and work with the girls while they are at home. It has made a huge difference for both them and us as parents, in these unusual times.”
Today, Jaime, Sean and their girls are enjoying life as a family and cherishing every moment together. Jaime credits the Hospitals of Regina Foundation and the overwhelming support from the community for giving her and her family a voice and platform to bring awareness to the importance of local pediatric care right here at home in southern Saskatchewan.
"It’s because of amazing organizations like Hospitals of Regina Foundation and the support from its donors, that my children have excelled the way they have. We are truly and eternally grateful for this. Without this support we wouldn't have the medical professionals, quality care and access to specialized equipment that we do. Our twins would not be here with us today without it. Thank you."