14 June 2022

A mum from Southampton will undertake a walk for Twins Trust to commemorate her own experience of her twins surviving a life-threatening condition while they were still in the womb. 

Katie Blankley praised Twins Trust's support in the desperate days of her pregnancy as she signed up for the Walk 10K for TTTS 2022. Katie completed the walk with twins Maisie and Mia, their dad, Janis, Katie’s parents, Alison and Barry, plus Katie’s partner, Roy and their son Teddy, four months.

The event will raise much-needed funds for medical research into Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

Katie said it is thanks to the incredible surgeons at St George’s Hospital in London that her three-year-old twins, Maisie and Mia, arrived safely into the world.

I booked an early scan at seven weeks and they confirmed it was twins. Obviously it was a massive shock but I was really excited

Katie shared her story, from the early days of pregnancy and discovering she had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

She said: “I found out I was pregnant in May 2018. I had really bad sickness and people joked around saying I was probably having twins and I said I wasn’t.

“I booked an early scan at seven weeks and they confirmed it was twins. Obviously it was a massive shock but I was really excited.”

After the news of having twins started to sink in, it was later confirmed at her 12-week scan that Katie was expecting identical twins.

She added: “At my fetal medical appointment, they told me about Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and how rare it is. But I ruled it out as you think that’s not going to happen.”

Specialists confirmed that Katie would have regular scans to monitor the twins, who shared a placenta but were both growing in their own sacs.

When Katie was 16 weeks pregnant, doctors noticed a slight difference in the volume of fluid around the twins. She then was checked every few days until doctors said they believed it was the start of TTTS.

She said: “They said they would try and get me to St George’s Hospital when they could. I was sitting in the waiting room trying not to Google anything on my phone as you try and think the best at the time.”

Things then moved quickly as an appointment was booked for 9am the next day and before she knew it, Katie was in the operating theatre.

She said: “They scanned me and by the time we got to the hospital, they couldn’t see twin two’s bladder and said it was stage 3 of TTTS. They said I would have the operation in the next couple of hours. It was a horrible feeling but I hoped for the best. They recommended we had the laser surgery because if we didn’t have it, we could lose one or two of the babies.”

In theatre, Katie was under local anesthetic and able to watch the surgery as it was carried out. She felt reassured as she could see her twins moving around on a screen in theatre. She praised the helpful staff and the surgeon who talked her through the operation. Following an overnight stay in hospital after the operation, doctors confirmed the operation had been a success and a scan showed twin two’s fluid had built back up.

“I was so relieved, I couldn’t believe it,” said Katie.

Twins Maisie and Mia

After surgery, Katie’s pregnancy continued until she went into early labour at 33 weeks. She was given a steroid injection to stop labour and the twins then arrived at 34 weeks in January 2019. Maisie weighed 4lb 4, while her sister Mia was 4lb 2. After a short stay in the neonatal unit, they were able to go home.

Katie said: “I look at them now and I can’t even believe they are here. They are little miracles."

Katie said finding out about Twins Trust also helped her during the twins’ diagnosis, adding: “I found Twins Trust really reassuring while we went through TTTS. Reading some really positive stories put my mind at ease and hopefully our story can help another family going through the same. The Facebook groups are brilliant for advice and support as everyone is on the same journey.”

I can’t believe how much they have been through at such a young age

Katie explained why she signed up for the walk and why it’s important to support medical research into conditions like TTTS.

“I had never heard of TTTS before we experienced it. If everyone knew about the risks of it, we hope it can help other families in the future.

“We are really looking forward to the walk,” she said.

Katie added: “I love telling people the story about the girls. People are fascinated when you talk about it as hardly anyone has ever heard of TTTS. I can’t believe how much they have been through at such a young age. They both had viral meningitis at six weeks old so they have been through a lot already.

“They are fine now and both really healthy.”