An expectant mom getting ready to welcome two sets of identical twins -- a one in 70 million occurrence -- endured emergency surgery this week after doctors found signs of a rare condition that could affect the health of one set of twins.
This week, during Ashley Gardner’s 19th week of pregnancy, doctors found evidence of an alarming condition called twin-to-twin syndrome that occurs when there is an imbalance in the blood supply between a set of identical twins in the placenta. As nutrition and blood supply is shunted from one twin to another, both can be harmed by either too much or too little fluid.
Doctors will decide today if Gardner and her husband, both of Pleasant Grove, Utah, can leave a hospital in California after another check-up to see if all four of the fetuses survived the surgery, including the fetus that was most in distress, according to the husband, Tyson Gardner.
“The surgery was a great success, and this morning we just hope the baby is a fighter,” Tyson Gardner told ABC News. “We really hope that the ultrasound. ... We hope we see four heartbeats.”
The Gardners are expecting quadruplets after spending years in fertility treatments. While the couple only had two embryos implanted, both of the embryos split, meaning they are now having two sets of identical twins.
Tyson Gardner told ABC News that their doctor in Utah found evidence of twin-to-twin syndrome on Monday and by Tuesday they had flown to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to be treated by experts.
“We haven’t slept much the past few days,” he said, adding that doctors had ordered his wife on immediate bed rest after finding out her cervix had started to open.
On Wednesday, doctors performed the emergency surgery to more equally divert blood flow between one set of the Gardner twins.
“Today, we’re doing much better," he said. "The last few days have been really rough ... very scary.”
The couple’s pregnancy made headlines earlier this month because of the rarity of having two sets of identical twins. The chances of two identical sets of twins is approximately one in 70 million, according to Dr. Alan Penzias, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
There were 276 sets of quadruplets born in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The couple had been undergoing fertility treatments for years after Ashley Gardner was diagnosed with endometriosis. The disorder, which involves tissue growing outside the uterus, meant she and her husband faced years of difficulty conceiving.
This year, the couple tried in-vitro fertilization and only two of the nine embryos created were viable for implantation, they said.
During their first ultrasound, the technician initially told them they were having twins. Then took another moment and looked closer at the screen.
"After about a minute of staring at the screen, she said there's four babies in here," recalled Tyson Gardner in an earlier interview. "Me and Ashley's faces went pale white."
A picture of Ashely's shocked face looking at the ultrasound screen went viral on Facebook and other social media sites. Tyson Gardner said both he and his wife came from large families and are ecstatic they will get to have a large family.
"We'll get our whole entire family here in one shot," he said.