A Pontypridd family who suffered the loss of one of their twin daughters as a result of a rare pregnancy complication have vowed to turn their heartbreak into something positive.
Rhiannon and Gareth Jenkins, who live on The Common, Pontypridd found out they were expecting twins in 2017, but the couple (parents to three other children) were shocked to discover the twins had a rare, serious condition called TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome), a condition which can occur in pregnancies when identical twins share a placenta.
With TTTS, abnormal blood vessel connections form in the placenta and allow blood to flow unevenly between the babies. For Rhiannon and Gareth, the odds of survival without intervention was 10%, but with it, they had a 60% chance of the twins reaching a viable gestation.
Rhiannon undertook laser ablation surgery to separate the blood supply for the twins which was initially a success – but just one week later discovered that their daughter Isabelle had passed away. Thanks to the foetal medical team in St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, where Rhiannon was treated, Isla had been protected from stroke as the twins’ blood supplies had been separated.
But despite the heartbreak over the loss of Isabelle and the post-birth difficulties she has encountered, Rhiannon was determined to give something back to the foetal medicine team that supported them and the charity that carries out research in to TTTS.
The couple held a Zumbathon and cake sale at St. Dyfrig’s Church Hall on the Broadway in Treforest to raise funds for the Capella Foundation – which increases awareness of medical complications during pregnancy, and raises funds to support medical research.
Gareth spoke to Howard on Community Link on 16th February
This summer, Gareth will also join a fundraising team from Ty Hafan to trek five mountains in 55 hours in recognition of Dads of children with life-limiting conditions.
“Devastating doesn’t describe the feeling of losing our baby girl. It’s believed that we had a small placental bleed that was catastrophic for Isabelle as she was small. The only consolation that without the surgery, we would likely have faced a grim prognosis for our survivor Isla.
“We have decided to raise money in Isabelle’s name, to contribute to ongoing research into advanced medical practices. As a mother I was lucky to have 3 healthy pregnancies, I never thought I’d need the services of foetal medicine but I did. I want to say thank you and we want others to benefit from our experience to make the heart ache worth it.”
Rhiannon’s husband Gareth – a retained firefighter and support worker at Children’s Hospice Ty Hafan, describes what the fundraiser means to him:
“It means so much to us that people are banding together and not just providing our family with support, but helping us to raise funds for our chosen charities. I want to continue to raise awareness of these conditions, honour Isabelle’s memory and pay tribute to my courageous wife, who has set herself these challenges to help with her recovery from this traumatic experience. We’ve been amazed with people’s generosity and hope people will come out to support us at Sunday’s Zumbathon, so we can reach our target of £1,000.”
To donate to Rhiannon and Gareth’s cause, go to Rhiannon’s JustGiving page – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rhiannon-jenkins7