LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Walker Myrick never met his twin brother, Willis. He died before they were born due to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or TTTS.
According to the TTTS Foundation website, this is a disease of the placenta in which it is unevenly shared by the identical twins. The shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels; those connect the umbilical cords and circulations of the twins. This means that one twin, commonly known as the donor, is shut off from nutrients and blood. The other baby, the recipient, gets an excess of blood and nutrients.
Brooke Myrick became Walker and Willis's mother on March 6, 2007. She said she had no idea her babies would fall victim to TTTS until she was blindsided during her 24 week ultrasound.
"I didn't have any idea that we were even at risk for it," Myrick said. "I didn't even know my boys were identical, and that's a big thing we're trying to spread, make sure your doctor's telling you if they are fraternal or if they are identical and if they're sharing placenta."
TTTS happens when the babies share a single placenta, so this disease only affects identical twins. According to the TTTS foundation, it is not hereditary or genetic, nor caused by anything the parents did or did not do. Unfortunately, the factors that cause TTTS are in place before a mother knows she's pregnant, so preventing this is impossible.
But, Myrick said frequent ultrasounds, weekly or biweekly, can save babies' lives.
"If they discover it, you might be a candidate for laser surgery," Myrick said.
This surgery is one way to protect your pregnancy. Myrick said doctors might also suggest horizontal bed rest and extra protein.
The Myrick family knows the pain TTTS causes a family. Now, they spend the months leading up to their March 6th birthday to raise money for research of TTTS and to spread awareness in honor of Willis.
One fundraiser is the sale of Walker and Willis Birthday Walk t-shirts. They cost $15 each. You can order those by visiting the Walker and Willis Birthday Walk Facebook Page, or emailing Brooke Myrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Myrick said she will gladly deliver to anyone who lives locally. If you're out of state, she will ship the shirts to you for a small cost. All payments made should be done though Paypal.
On Saturday, March 5, everyone is invited to Walker and Willis's Birthday Walk and party starting at 11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph City Park in St. Joseph, Tennessee. There will be food and a silent auction taking place. All money raised from the silent auction will go directly to the Twin to Twin Transfusion Foundation in honor of Willis.