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For Newborn Twins, Timing Was Just Right

Times Staff Writer

If Ada Menjivar had been late for her doctor appointment, if the doctor had been running way behind schedule, if the ultrasound machine had been tied up -- as it often is -- then her newborn twin girls would probably not be alive today, White Memorial Medical Center officials said Saturday.

But the timing was just right for the 30-year-old woman carrying 28-week-old twins, her first pregnancy.

In less than two hours Friday afternoon, Dr. Kathryn Shaw discovered that Menjivar’s pregnancy was a statistical rarity, that the babies were in grave danger and that only an emergency caesarean section could save them.

“It’s only through a miracle of God that my babies are alive,” Menjivar said Saturday from her hospital bed. “The doctor told me a few more minutes and they would have died.”

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When the babies were delivered, doctors found that their umbilical cords were tangled in what Shaw said resembled a “ball of yarn in a gigantic knot.”

It was that knot that began to restrict life-sustaining nutrients and oxygen to one of the babies shortly after Shaw hooked Menjivar up to an ultrasound and fetal monitoring machine late Friday afternoon.

Within minutes or hours, the fetuses probably would have died, Shaw said.

The girls, Milka Fabianna and Nancy Faviola Guillen, were in critical condition Saturday in the neonatal intensive care unit, and are expected to be hospitalized for several weeks, officials said. Each weighed slightly less than 2 pounds.

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The babies were monoamniotic, meaning that they shared one placenta and one amniotic sac, a condition found in fewer than 1% of twin pregnancies, Shaw said.

Statistically, she said, 60% of monoamniotic twins die before birth.

“Little angels must have carried them into my office,” Shaw said. “It was definitely fortuitous timing.”

Menjivar didn’t even have an appointment Friday with Shaw, who is a high-risk obstetrics specialist and director of maternal fetal medicine at White Memorial in Boyle Heights.

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Menjivar showed up at Shaw’s office after her regular doctor told her to see a specialist because of her condition.

Shaw agreed to squeeze in her new patient, and said “it was all a little shocking, that in a couple of minutes we would need to do an emergency C-section.”

“I just thank God that I had the help of these doctors,” Menjivar said.

“Now I just want my babies to be fine and well.”

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