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A couple have welcomed their miracle triplets into the world after they were diagnosed with a life-threatening disease while still in the womb.
Tanya and Kris Hall, the triplets' parents, were almost faced with a heartbreaking situation: one of the babies being terminated for the sake of the other two's survival.
At 19 weeks pregnant, the naturally conceived triplets were diagnosed with life-threatening stage three Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).
This is where uneven blood flow between the babies causes one to get more nutrients than the others, and can have tragic results, as one baby can get too big and be at risk of heart failure, while the other two may become dangerously underdeveloped.
The devastating diagnosis meant that Tanya, 30, needed to have surgery while the babies were still in her womb. Thankfully, the surgery went well, and she gave birth to three healthy boys, Rupert, Austin and Ethan, in April of this year.
The couple, from Hessle, Yorkshire, say it was their "dream to have a family".
But after the initial delight of finding out they were expecting identical triplets, a routine scan showed the terrifying diagnosis.
"At 19 weeks pregnant it all went wrong when I was diagnosed with TTTS at Hull Women's and Children's Hospital," says Tanya, a research and development worker.
"To hear there was something so badly wrong with my babies was devastating. Doctors suggested I undergo laser ablation surgery, which is performed on the babies while they are in my womb and can correct the blood-sharing imbalance.
"The procedure involves finding every blood vessel connecting the babies and closing them to prevent the flow of blood from one baby to the other and the possible risk of transfusion. It sounded so alien to us, we were in shock.
"Due to one of the babies getting more blood than the others, there was a possibility we would have to let one of the smaller babies go for the sake of the other two. The ultimate horror.
"There was more terrible news, as the doctors told me I was at high risk of an early labour because my cervix had shortened.
"Doctors said if the boys were to be born at 19 weeks, it would be disastrous. They were unlikely to survive - and would be classed as a miscarriage as would be delivered before 23 weeks gestation.
"I was heartbroken, but had to go straight in for surgery. The op was so frightening, but the medics were pleased. Then we had the long wait to see if I went into early labour.
"From 23 to 24 weeks, premature babies are potentially viable with over half surviving so I was desperate to at least hit that milestone to give my boys a fighting chance."
Tanya was put on bed rest in hospital from 24 weeks pregnant. Doctors advised her to give birth at 28 weeks, but she wanted a bit longer as she was worried about preterm complications, and managed to hold off the labour until 31 weeks.
The tiny triplets were born at Lancashire Women and Newborn Hospital, with Austin weighing 4lb, Ethan 2lb 9oz and Rupert 2lb 11oz. The boys were immediately whisked off to the NICU to be put on breathing supports, and six weeks after they were born, they were allowed to go home.
"Our little miracles are now 10 weeks old. I often look down at them and feel like I'm the luckiest mum in the world," says Tanya.
"I'm so glad they didn't need to come home from the hospital with any equipment as they're doing well enough on their own.
"The outreach nurse has been frequently checking on the babies and she's actually really surprised to see how well they're doing. She said she's never seen anything like it, which is great news to know our boys are doing OK.
"They have doubled their weights and it has been hard work having three babies at once, but it's actually a lot easier than I expected."
Research and development worker, Kris, 41, says: "Having the boys home makes it feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. They're finally safely with us.
"It was such a tense and worrying pregnancy, so it's amazing that we're finally all together."
The couple share photos of their triplets' journey on Instagram @triplettales.
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