Like many pregnant women during the height of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Dana Salmonese took her temperature every hour, but instead of monitoring for a possible COVID-19 infection, she was monitoring herself at home for a sepsis infection after having a procedure performed in the womb to save her twins at 18 weeks of pregnancy.
Salmonese, a mother of three from Huntington, Long Island, shares with People magazine her family’s incredible story that includes a near miscarriage, a separate, deadly diagnosis for her unborn twins, a lifesaving laser surgery in the womb, and premature delivery—all amid a global pandemic.
Martin Chavez, MD, director of maternal and fetal medicine and fetal surgery at NYU Winthrop Hospital, performed a minimally invasive procedure, called laser photocoagulation, to treat Salmonese’s unborn children for twin–twin transfusion syndrome, a rare disease of the placenta in which blood flows unevenly from the shared organ to the two developing fetuses. If left untreated, the twins were given a 10 to 20 percent chance of survival.
Given the extremely high-risk nature of Salmonese’s pregnancy, she received a hands-on multidisciplinary team approach from the maternal–fetal medicine team at both NYU Winthrop Hospital, which has the only fetal surgery program on Long Island, and NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group.
The babies, who Salmonese fondly refers to as Pauly and Vinny, were born by cesarean delivery at NYU Winthrop Hospital at 31 weeks of pregnancy and have been thriving ever since.
Now “they’re both doing exceptionally well,” Dr. Chavez says. “It’s typical for multiples to develop a kind of sibling rivalry to see who gets bigger faster and who’s eating better, so it’s nice to see that kind of competition happening with the Salmonese twins.”
Pauly and Vinny will both be home soon, after spending nearly three months in the internationally renowned Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital.
“It’s such a miracle that nothing is too crazy. They had MRIs to check, and there’s abnormalities, but nothing that needs surgical intervention. All their problems seem to be normal preemie issues,” Salmonese says. “They’re such miracle baby fighters.”
Read more from People.