As part of our Brighter Together campaign, Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield shares the story of an Otsego family whose children found a special kind of freedom at Children's Minnesota (3:33). WCCO 4 News At 6 - March 31, 2021
- A live birth of conjoined twins only happens about once every three years in Minnesota. As part of our brighter together campaign, Susan Elizabeth Littlefield, shares a story of [INAUDIBLE] family whose children found a special kind of freedom at Children's Minnesota.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: The Eriksson's family of four recently grew in a way they never could have expected. In week 17 of Kate's pregnancy, she got the news.
KATE ERICKSON: It was just shock. You know, they're like, oh, here's one baby. Here's two baby, and they appear to be connected.
- To the baby's chest, you see the baby's heart's beating.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: They found out they were having two children conjoined as one.
KATE ERICKSON: We were so worried. You know, all of the possibilities going through your head of are we going to make it out of this with any babies at all?
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: But they did. In November of 2019, Remi and Reese were safely born together.
- Say hi, mama.
KATE ERICKSON: Hi, sweet girls.
- Everybody in the operating room was smiling. Like everyone had masks on, but you could still see them smiling.
KATE ERICKSON: Just seeing them, it was just instant love, like you would a normal baby. So you didn't even really think twice about them being conjoined really.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Turns out, their shared body saved from a deadly heart condition, stunning even their doctor.
DR, JOSPEH LILLEGARD: Without Remy, I think our concern is that Reese probably had a very low chance of surviving by herself. That's a pretty remarkable scenario.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Dr. Joseph Lillegard was the task with another scenario, how to separate Rimi and Reese, a procedure he's now assisted with three times at Children's Minnesota.
DR, JOSPEH LILLEGARD: It's an emotional journey with the family, because you're also preparing them for the possibility that things don't go the way that you hope them to go.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: But after a seven hour surgery, it did. Dr. Lillegard and nine others separated the girls chests, abdomens, and shared liver.
- And we'd gotten so used to seeing them conjoined, that once the separation happened, it was like they were reborn.
DR, JOSPEH LILLEGARD: You really get to know the family well in the situation, so you feel their anxiety. You feel their stress, and you feel their relief and their excitement and joy with them.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And the family who spent a year in the hospital really got to know Children's Minnesota.
KATE ERICKSON: I think that's what helped us get through it is to know that that hospital was completely equipped with everything they needed to get our girls healthy and home one day.
- So stressful.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And the girls are home. Remi is running around and expected to have no lasting health effects. Reese is working through breathing issues and her heart will still need lifelong care, but she is making strides with her sister who is still by her side.
DR, JOSPEH LILLEGARD: Seeing that they've got two to live kids at home and the joy that that brings their family that's everything. That's the reason for getting up in the morning.
SUSAN ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Susan Elizabeth Littlefield, WCCO 4 News.
- You can help families like the Eriksson's by donating to Children's Minnesota. The nonprofit health care system does not turn patients away. Donations make that possible, helping patients who cannot afford care. And right now, anything you give up to $10,000 will be doubled, thanks to a matching donation from Karen and Walter White.
To give you can text MNBrighter to 50155 or just head to WCCO.com/brighter.