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Shannon and Mike Gimbel faced an agonizing choice. Doctors told them one of the twin girls they were expecting needed to be terminated or both would die. Doctors at Swedish Medical Center had diagnosed Gimbel's twins with Twin-To-Twin Syndrome, or TTTS. It is a condition in which the twins are connected by blood vessels. One twin literally drains the life out of the other. Left untreated, there is an 80 to 90 percent chance that one or both will die.

Shannon and Mike were struggling with the suggestion to terminate the weaker baby when their physician at Swedish, Dr. Kent Heyborne, approached them with another option. He'd made contact with Drs. Robert Bell and Michael Belfort of St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Utah surgeons teamed with those at Swedish to perform laser surgery in the womb to cauterize the blood vessels that were connecting, and slowly killing, the twins.

Shannon says she remembers holding her breath as a nurse used an ultrasound to listen for heartbeats after the surgery. One, then another. Both girls had made it. Reese and McKenna Gimbel were born at Swedish two months later.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011


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