Parents saddle up for charity drive to study twins disease

Laura Batt with Isabella, two, and Ryan Lewis with one-year-old Blake. Picture: OX69424 Ryan Cowan

Laura Batt with Isabella, two, and Ryan Lewis with one-year-old Blake. Picture: OX69424 Ryan Cowan Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

IT had been almost the ideal pregnancy, without complications.

Laura Batt was looking forward to holding her twin babies in her arms, but was devastated when one of them died during a premature birth.

Now the 22-year-old, from Witney, and her partner Ryan Lewis, 24, have set up a non-profit organisation to raise awareness of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, the condition which took baby Grace’s life.

They took part in a 113-mile cycle challenge on Sunday to raise money for children’s charity Action Medical Research, which seeks to find out more about the disease.

Miss Batt, of Mirfield Road, said: “When the reality hit I was just torn in two.

“It was a complete shock going from what was pretty much a perfect pregnancy for twins to having everything that we had hoped and dreamed of ripped away from us.”

Grace was stillborn after 34 weeks in April 2012, while her sister Isabella, now two, had to be resuscitated and was kept in intensive care for more than three weeks.

Miss Batt, who is taking an access to higher education healthcare course at Abingdon and Witney College, had suffered only minor issues during her pregnancy.

She was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital with high blood pressure on April 10, but doctors were initially concerned only about her own health.

They identified both twins’ heartbeats at first, but realised Grace had died when one had disappeared two days later. Miss Batt had to have an emergency Caesarean section.

Doctors later told her Grace had died from acute twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a disease of the placenta that affects identical twin pregnancies.

It usually occurs only between 12 and 26 weeks of pregnancy and Miss Batt does not know why it affected her.

She said: “When we were first told we were expecting twins after our nine-week scan we were told there was a 12 per cent chance of getting this condition.

“But we were ecstatic about having twins and optimistic, so this seemed like a small chance. What happened was a complete disbelief.”

Last year the couple, who also have a one-year-old son, Blake, set up Our Saving Grace to raise awareness about the syndrome and help parents in the aftermath after they found there was no help for them.

They have so far raised more than £5,000 from events including a golf day, and donated a ‘cuddle cot’ to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

A cuddle cot is a cot which keeps stillbirth babies at an optimum temperature, so their parents can spend time with them before the funeral.

Mr Lewis, a general manager for a building material company, said: “It was heartbreaking not to see her open her eyes.

“We never got enough time with Grace to grieve and let go, spending a maximum of about 20 minutes.

“It’s one thing when you lose your baby, but time is always against you and it’s something a parent regrets, that they don’t get to spend more time with their baby.”

Mr Lewis and Miss Batt, who are hoping to receive charity status soon, rode the cycle challenge from Bristol to London with six friends and family members.

They have raised nearly £2,000 for Action Medical Research, for its research into the condition.

 

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