KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Aaron Neal is on a 15-day road trip with his twin daughters, 11-year olds Dakota and Alexia. They made a stop that's not in any tour book: Eastside Maternal Fetal Medicine at Evergreen Health.
In the clinic, Dr. Martin Walker greeted them with hugs. This is the first time the girls have met Walker, but he saved their lives before they were born. The twins were fighting for a shared blood supply.
"You had the short end of the stick. You didn't have very much of it," Walker said to Dakota. "And you had quite a lot of it," he told Alexia.
Nineteen weeks into their mother's pregnancy, the twins were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. TTTS happens when one twin, called the donor, has a low level of amniotic fluid. The other twin is the recipient and has an excessive amount. It is potentially life-threatening for both.
"When we originally learned what the situation was, 90% of these cases, either one or both of the twins die," Neal said. "So they flew us up here to Seattle to do the surgery in-utero, to basically disconnect them."
Dr. Walker successfully separated the babies' blood supply, and the next day, the Neal family returned to Arizona.
Months later, the tiny twins were born and their past struggle showed in their size. Alexia weighed 5.2 pounds while Dakota weighed just 3.5 pounds. Now, they've grown into typical 11-year-old kids. They love sports, they play musical instruments and if things go to plan, they are a future zoologist and pediatrician, thanks to one of the few surgeons in the country who knew how to save them.