CHICAGO — The WGN Medical Watch team has a follow up to a remarkable birth story.
We first introduced you to Janessa and Genesis three years ago. The local twins endured a complex and rare delivery. At the time, it was only the second known procedure of its kind on twins – a partial delivery and an immediate surgery – at just 29 week.
WGN’s was there when Janessa was leaving the hospital after a six month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her twin, Genesis, had already gone home.
The sisters had a tricky start.
At 29 weeks, a giant mass growing on Janessa’s neck was causing too much fluid to build up, compromising their mother’s Theodora Flores’ pregnancy. That’s when Dr Aimen Shaaban, along with a team of 40, delivered her – but only partially.
Dr Aimen Shaaban is a pediatric surgeon at Lurie Children’s and Director of The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health.
“(The tumor encompassed) the chin and the neck, the back of the neck, and upper part of chest,” Shaaban said. “I only know of one other case that’s been done this way.”
What’s called an exit procedure is extremely rare in twins.
“In order to do the procedure, we had to treat her first, leaving the healthy sister inside,” Shaaban said. “We brought the upper torso, the neck and the arms out to be able to get access to the airway.”
The next step was Dr Jonathan Ida placed a breathing tube in Janessa’s airway.
“They can be kept on a mother’s placental support for about an hour and a half to two hours,” Ida said. “Gives us plenty of chance to secure the airway and make sure the baby is safe.”
“In doing that we were able to treat Janessa, securing her airway, to make that stable transition from being a fetus to a newborn without any deprivation of oxygen,” Shaaban said. “(We) delivered her and then went in and got her twin, Genesis, and were able to deliver her safely.”
Janessa was taken to the operating room where surgeons removed the giant tumor. It wasn’t her last surgery. In October 2021, she required airway reconstruction.
“We actually put some absorbable plates on the sides of her trachea in order to stent it outwards,” Ida said. “And then we put a graft in the front and the back so her airway got pieces all around like a box to keep it open.”
“You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been through since delivery, coming home, all of that, just looking at them now,” Flores said.
Now, at 3-years-old, they are healthy and full of energy. The girls have speech delays and Janessa still has a feeding tube but they have each other to lean on.
“I love seeing them climb and get into everything,” Flores said. “No matter how much craziness they bring and how much frustration they give me, I don’t ever get mad about it. I love every bit of it because I didn’t think I was going to get to this point with them.”
Next up, the girls who entered the world via the rare exit procedure, will enter pre-school! Since their procedure, the team at Lurie has treated one other set of twins.