Emma Dutton and her partner, Mark Prince, had been trying desperately for a baby. So, when they discovered she was pregnant – with twins – at the end of 2015, they were ecstatic.
At her 18 week scan, the couple, from Walsall in the UK, were told they were expecting identical twin boys. But their joy was short-lived, as the pair were led into a “little room” as soon as the scan was over.
“There was a table and chairs and a little box of tissues and I just knew we were going to hear something awful. I knew it didn’t look right,” Emma told The Mirror.
Emma and Mark were told their baby boys were showing signs of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, or TTTS, a condition that sees one twin receive a higher flow of blood from the shared placenta than the other.
The condition can be potentially fatal to both foetuses.
Just a week later, the condition had progressed and Emma was able, under a laser ablataion procedure, to operate on the twins in her womb and seal off some of the blood vessels connecting the babies.
A scan after her surgery revealed both twins - who the couple had decided to name Elijah and Oliver - were doing well. But a week later, on February 29, 2015, when Emma was 20 weeks and one day pregnant, she was told one of her twins no longer had a heartbeat.
"I was absolutely devastated. I was staring at the monitor and I didn’t think I could see a heartbeat," Emma said.
"Then the sonographer said there was a problem and went to get the consultant. I just thought, 'Why has this happened to me?'."
Emma told The Mirror the image of seeing her little boy not moving in her womb would "never leave her memory".
"My little boy lay on the screen not moving, no little wriggles, no little bubbles, and no heartbeat. That image will never leave my memory," she said.
In order to give the surviving twin, Oliver, the best chance of survival, Emma had to carry both twins in her womb for more than 15 weeks.
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Despite knowing that she would soon be welcoming a child, Emma said she struggled to enjoy the rest of her pregnancy.
"I just couldn't allow myself to be happy about the pregnancy. I thought if I got my hopes up the other one would die as well," she said.
"From then on, whenever I bought something for Oliver I felt awful that I wasn't buying something for Elijah as well.
"It was just an awful situation and the guilt was overwhelming."
On June 16 last year, when Emma was 35 weeks and four days pregnant, the twins were born via c-section.
Oliver weighed 4lb, 11oz. His deceased twin, Elijah, weighed just three ounces.
Despite the heartbreaking circumstances, Emma and Mark say they are pleased the twin boys were able to be born together.
The pair said goodbye to Elijah at the hospital, before bringing Oliver home to meet the rest of their family. Today, Oliver is a happy and healthy 10-month-old.
Now, the family is raising money for the TTTS Registry, a foundation which aims to collect data about twins with the condition so more lives can be saved in the future.
"I just think if I can do something to help and raise some money for research, another family won’t have to go through the same thing we did," Emma said.
"I can't change what happened to me, but with more research, hopefully the survival rates will change in future.
"Hopefully Elijah will be looking down and watching what we're doing and be proud of his mummy, daddy and brother Oliver."