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 15, 2015 the terrified mother underwent an emergency surgery to help give her girls a fighting chance.
Three days later, Bella and Mila were born weighing only 650 grams and 820 grams respectively. Soon after their birth, doctors delivered heartbreaking news to Jaime and Sean - the chance of their girls surviving was less than two per cent. Mila was whisked away for medical attention while Bella stayed behind to spend what many thought were her final moments with her family.
In an amazing turn of events, Bella survived. The little girl who few thought would survive, recovered from several head surgeries and fluid buildup around her brain. Mila was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy and underwent surgeries to her small intestine, allowing her body gain the nutrients she needed to grow and develop. They both spent more than 110 days in Regina’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
However, their story didn’t just end in the NICU. The twins continued to defy all odds, thanks to Regina’s pediatric services. At 12 months old, Bella laid lifeless on the operating room table after flat-lining unexpectedly during a surgery to repair her brain’s shunt line. When all hope was lost, the strength of Regina’s pediatric services helped revive her.
The last few years have been challenging for Jaime and Sean, but nothing means more to them than the amazing care their girls continue to receive at Regina’s hospitals. Every year, Hospitals of Regina Foundation invests in pediatric services to ensure quality care is available for babies like Bella and Mila, who need specialized care.
I really don’t know how we would have gotten through such a trying time without the support of everyone who works in Regina’s pediatric services,” said Jamie. “They were there for every second of our journey, providing top-quality care when our girls needed it most.
Today, the twins are thriving. They meet with a pediatrician to monitor their development and to receive regular checkups, including eye, hearing and cardiac tests. Mila also participates in the physical and occupational therapy program at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre .
The Children’s Program at the Centre employs physical, exercise and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and social workers, all working together to provide rehab services for children from across southern Saskatchewan. In 2017, 2200 children made more than 18,500 visits to the Centre.
Jamie sums up her family’s gratitude: “Because of the amazing care we have received over the past two-and-a-half years, we have these amazing, beautiful, strong little girls who have overcome everything they were never supposed to.”
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