Chase County graduate tells story to crowd of 365 at fundraiser
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
It was shock enough to learn they were having twins in September 2012.
But Meghan and Jason Fleming of Highlands Ranch, Colo., learned later, 17 weeks into their pregnancy, they were dealing with something much more, a potential life-threatening diagnosis for their babies called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).
The motto she adopted after learning she was carrying twins, “Choose faith over worry,” came to mean much more as they dealt with TTTS.
The former Meghan Dawkins, who graduated from Chase County High School in 1997, was guest speaker at
“The Wine Event,” June 14 in Denver. It was a fundraiser benefiting Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Colorado Fetal Care Center attended by 365 people.
In her address, Meghan told of their journey with TTTS, and eventually the successful birth of twin boys, Nolan and Landon, now 15 months old.
The couple learned their babies had TTTS following their 16-week appointment.
“Our lives were turned upside down,” she said.
With TTTS, the babies grow in the womb in two amniotic sacs, but share just one placenta and one vascular system.
One baby is considered the “donor,” with little amniotic fluid in his sac; the other is the “recipient,” who has too much fluid in the sac. With the Fleming twins, it was a 15/85 mismatch.
The syndrome causes stress on the heart of the “recipient,” as he has to process so much additional fluid. Meanwhile, the “donor” deals with not enough fluid.
“He was ‘saran-wrapped’ to the side of my uterus,” Meghan said of the “donor” baby.
Within 48 hours of the TTTS diagnosis, Meghan underwent laser ablation surgery, where the surgeon cauterized 26 shared blood vessels and removed two liters of excess fluid from “recipient” baby.
After that, Meghan was put on bedrest and went to weekly perinatology appointments.
However, she said a “bomb dropped” again, when she was hospitalized at 24 weeks due to cervix shortening. At that point, if she was to deliver, the babies were given just a 50 percent chance of survival if born, “with a very high risk of handicaps in both,” she said.
Luckily, her contractions stopped and she was sent home from the hospital after three days.
“Choose faith over worry” came to the forefront again.
A few weeks later, at 28 weeks, “donor” Nolan and “recipient” Landon were born, weighing 2 lbs. 9 ozs. and 3 lbs. 3 ozs.
Being 10 weeks early, the babies spent 52 days in the hospital, briefly on ventilators, but also on feeding tubes and dealing with jaundice.
They came home with oxygen, but Meghan said otherwise they were healthy and normal.
She said the medical teams at Children’s Hospital, as well as St. Joseph’s and her OB doctor were also responsible for the fact their boys are healthy 15-month-olds today.
But Dr. Timothy Crombleholme, the surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Hospital who conducted the in-utero surgery, and his team “saved their lives and gave them the opportunity to fight the other battles ahead of them,” Meghan said.
“Thanks to Dr. Crombleholme, our story had a much different ending than any of us thought,” she added.
Along the journey, they learned that TTTS is more common than SIDS. If their condition had been left uncorrected, one baby would die, causing the other to have a stroke, and also eventually die.
Meghan also noted they were lucky that treatment for TTTS was just half an hour away for their family in Colorado.
That’s not the case for many others who need to fly across the country on a day’s notice for treatment to try to save their babies’ lives.
That was the reason for the June 14 fundraiser.
Money raised that evening from the banquet and silent auction will assist families with airfare, hotel, meals, etc. when the are away from home, their support system and jobs.
More information on TTTS and the opportunity to contribute to the fund for families can be found at this website: http://teamchildrenscolorado.kintera.org/flemingtwins
Meghan is the daughter of Merrilyn Leibbrandt of Imperial and Mike Dawkins of Brighton, Colo.