Meet Princess Warriors Rheya Helen and Rhoan Hope

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Problems:    Complicated pregnancy, 30 week delivery; diaphragmatic hernia

Solutions:     12 surgeries, home oxygen for Rhoan

Results:        Both girls home and happy!

 

UPDATE, May 15: After experiencing complications that put her back into the hospital, Rhoan is GOING HOME to be with her family after 275 very long days. Her story is shared on Facebook, Journey of the Thornton Twins.

Our little warriors arrived at 30 weeks and 5 days, weighing in at 3lbs 7oz. and 4lbs .02oz, respectively.

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My husband and I, as well as our three school-aged children, learned we were going to be blessed with another baby when I was just 6 weeks pregnant. Shortly after learning I was expecting I took a minor tumble causing my doctors to perform an ultrasound that revealed our little bundle of joy would be two-fold: TWINS!

The first few months of my pregnancy things were “normal” but all of that was soon to change. Around week 18 I suffered a placental tear. Then, during a routine ultrasound appointment at week 20, they discovered that one of the twins, Rhoan, had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. And then during yet another ultrasound they discovered the blood flow to Rhoan was restricted and she wasn’t growing as quickly as Rheya.

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A 27 weeks, I went into pre-term labor and was told that if the girls were born before they reached 34 weeks of development, Rhoan would not survive. I was admitted to the hospital where labor was stopped and I was placed on strict bed rest for the next three weeks. I was sent home only to go into labor once again. This time it was for real and the doctors determined the girls needed to be delivered via emergency C-section.

Knowing that you are going to deliver two babies and that one of them most likely isn’t going to make it out of the delivery room – trying to mentally prepare yourself for that - it is not something you can or should have to do.

With fewer complications, Rheya was able to leave NICU earlier than her twin sister.

With fewer complications, Rheya was able to leave NICU earlier than her twin sister.

After a complicated pregnancy, on January 9, 2017 we welcomed our twin girls into our family – 10 weeks early. Even though she was premature, Rheya took off strong the start. She started gaining weight and was released from the neonatal intensive care unit after 42 days, while Rhoan’s journey home would be far longer.  

 

While most babies born with this condition have a hole in their diaphragm, Rhoan’s diaphragm never formed at all. Without a diaphragm to separate them, pressure from her abdominal organs pressing on her heart and lungs meant they were under developed, leading to many more unforeseen complications. When Rhoan was ready for surgery, doctors spent seven hours building Rhoan a diaphragm out of mesh and attaching it to her ribcage.

The doctors said they did not expect Rhoan to survive and attribute her survival to the fact that her liver was positioned horizontally, blocking her abdominal organs from pushing too far into her chest cavity.   

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After 253 days, 12 surgeries, horrifying seizures, feeding tubes, continuous oxygen and a multitude of special medicines, Rhoan is finally home with us as well

Although Rhoan needs constant care she doesn’t allow her feeding tubes or oxygen to slow her down or hold her back. She’s crawling, standing and will jabber to anyone who will listen. She is very smart and has been working on her words, both verbally and by signing, and has a special “twin-speak” with Rheya.

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