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AFTER 'LONG BATTLE,'
BREGOLI TWINS DOING FINE

By CARA FITZPATRICK
cfitzpatrick@ledger.com
June 24-25, 2006
   David and Bernadette Bregoli pose with twin daughters Olivia, left, and Lea, and daughter Lauren, 6. Surgery on the twins has helped stop a life-threatening imbalance revealed in an ultrasound when Bernadette was 16 weeks pregnant.

"We had to cross our fingers each week (after surgery) that there would be two heartbeats, and every time there was."

Bernadette Bregoli, mother of the twin girls

 

Bernadette Bregoli was 16 weeks pregnant when an ultrasound showed that the twin girls that she was expecting had a rare life-threatening condition.
One twin was getting too much blood, while the other was getting too little. The condition, called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, kills 85 percent of identical twins affected with it.
Bregoli and her husband, David, of Abington, had a choice to make: They could do nothing and risk losing both babies or undergo an in-utero laser surgery, which would give them a 75 percent chance that at least one twin would survive.
The Bregolis chose surgery.
The Bregoli twins, Olivia and Lea, celebrated their thurd birthday June 20. On Friday, they were back to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence for a reunion with their doctors and seven other families whose children have been treated for the condition.
"This is a happy day for us," Bernadette said, tearing up as she watched the girls play with their older sister, Lauren, 6. "We had to cross our fingers each week (after surgery) that there would be two heartbeats and every time there was."
Hasbro Children's Hospital is the only medical center in the northeast to perform the surgery. The program is run in cooperation with Brown Medical School and the Women & Infants' Hospital.
To stop the imbalance between the twins, docotrs insert a laser into the mother's abdomen and uterus and cut some of the blood vessels between the twins.
Although the surgery is relatively simple for the mother, it can be risky for the babies because of the possibility of bleeding and permature labor, said Dr. Francois Luks, one of the two primary doctors to perform the surgery.
Since the program began in 2000, doctors have treated 80 families and performed 32 surgeries. Sixty-four of the women have successfully delivered at least one twin.
Four families at Friday's reunion had both their babies survive. The other four had one twin live.
"For some of you this experience has been bittersweet," Luks told the parents. "For some, it has been more bitter than sweet. It is appropriate that we remember those who have lost and continue to learn about this condition."
The families, who traveled from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire to attend the celebration, ate from a large buffet in the hospital lobby, talked to their doctors and watched two children's performers sing and dance.
Some of the mothers hugged the doctors, Luks and Dr. Stephen Carr, and recounted the difficult stories of their pregnancies and deliveries.
Wearing matching yellow T-shirts given to them by the hospital and polka-dotted skirts, Olivia and Lea were oblvivious to the emotion around them. They colored, made baby bottles out of Play-Doh and ate cookies.
Watching them, Bernadette smilled.
"It was a long battle, but it was well worth it," she said.