Jennifer and Chuck Funrue are expecting a Christmas miracle – Carter Richmond Funrue.
“It’s exciting – and bittersweet,” Chuck said.
The young couple was expecting twin boys, due Dec. 26.
Then, Jenn was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that interconnects the blood vessels in the placenta where one twin becomes a donor and the other a recipient.
“The donor will have decreased blood volume, retarding growth, and decreased urinary output, providing lower than normal levels of amniotic fluid,” explained Denise Viss, a registered nurse who works with Chuck, a paramedic, at Santiam Memorial Hospital.
“The recipient’s blood volume is increased, putting strain on the heart of the baby. There is also an increase in urinary output, and higher levels of amniotic fluid.”
Failing to act immediately would mean losing the twins, so doctors at the University of California, San Francisco Children’s Hospital operated on the boys to separate the connecting blood vessels and drain fluid from the recipient baby.
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“Unfortunately, baby B, the donor, suffered a massive stroke and bleeding in the brain,” Viss said. “The hard decision had to be made to say good-bye to Preston Joseph, and focus on saving baby A, Carter Richmond.”
A second surgery severed Preston’s umbilical cord so that Carter has the best possible chance to survive, Viss said.
“Now that she’s done with surgeries, Jenn has to carry both boys until Carter can be delivered,” she said.
“Every ultrasound they go to, every time she feels a kick in her belly, they come to the hard realization that one of their sons is dead, and still inside of her. It is a constant reminder of the blessing of Carter and pain of losing Preston.”
Chuck Funrue said the experience has been bittersweet.
“On one hand, we have Carter, who seems to be safe, sound and thriving,” he said. “On the other hand, we lost Preston. It’s a balance between being grateful and feeling grief. Some days, we feel good. Some days, we don’t.”
Funrue said dealing with the loss of one son has been tougher since multiple ultrasounds, necessary for the medical problem, allowed them to watch the two boys grow, suck thumbs, kick – all the things that babies do.
“We were very attached to both of them,” he said. “They weren’t just a thought, but very real to us.”
The Funrues expect Carter’s arrival to help them adjust to the loss of his twin.
“He’ll keep us busy!” Chuck said.