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The worst feeling a new mother can experience is knowing her baby, or babies, are in danger and being told there is nothing she can do about it. Mom-to-be Amber Cessac refused to accept this reality after being diagnosed with a fetal condition that was deemed untreatable. Instead, she sought treatment from fetal medicine specialist Kenneth Moise Jr., M.D., who now serves as the director of the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, a clinical partnership between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“I met Dr. Moise 10 years ago under what is probably classified as the most terrible circumstances,” says Cessac. “I was terrified and traumatized and just hoping that he could help us. I was around 20 weeks pregnant and had just been diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. At that time, my obstetrician informed me there were no options and told me, ‘I’m so sorry, but you’re going to lose both of your babies.’ I was basically advised to just wait and see what happens, see how long my babies would last. As a mother, that just really fills you with the sense of hopelessness and helplessness.”
Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a rare condition that only occurs in monochorionic pregnancies (i.e., identical twins). In this situation, the fetuses share one placenta as well as the same network of blood vessels. TTTS occurs when an imbalance in blood exchange exists, causing one twin to receive too much blood while the other twin receives too little, putting both babies at risk.
“I managed to find Dr. Moises’s information and called the listed phone number,” says Amber. “I spoke to his wife, Karen, the nurse navigator for their fetal center, on the phone. When we realized that I lived in the same city that Dr. Moise was practicing, Karen asked, ‘Can you be here at two o’clock this afternoon?’ And I said, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ When I got there, I had the longest ultrasound ever, and Dr. Moise said, ‘We need you in the OR first thing tomorrow morning if we’re going to save these babies.’ So, it was only about 36 hours from the time of my diagnosis to my being in the OR and having surgery with Dr. Moise to correct my TTTS.”
The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center
At the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, all patients are assigned a nurse navigator, who serves as their primary source of communication, education and support. Nurse navigators are valuable members of the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center care team and are committed to seeing patients and their families through both a successful pregnancy and a successful delivery.
“I’m happy to report,” exclaims Amber, “that after my surgery, my babies thrived!”
Led by Dr. Moise, who has developed fetal centers across the country, the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is the first and only comprehensive program in Central Texas that provides care for babies with congenital conditions before, during and after birth, including care for the mother and baby during pregnancy, delivery of the baby and care of the baby after birth, all in one place.
“I see Dr. Moise every couple of years,” says Amber. “Every time, I feel this compulsion to tell him everything that the girls are doing. For a while, I wondered, ‘Why do I do that? Why do I feel this compulsion to tell him every little detail?’ And I know that it’s because I want him to remember, although he already knows, that this is not just a job, and these are not just numbers and statistics. These are lives, and these are souls that are here that wouldn’t otherwise be.”
For more information about the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center or to request an appointment, visit here or call 512.324.0040.