Maya and Ellie Kollme
When we first met Dr. Harman, we were scared. We were expecting identical twins and had just been diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, an intrauterine condition that often results in death or severe handicap for one or both of the twins.
Needless to say, Astri and I knew nothing about the disease, its causes or potential treatments and resultant outcomes. We read everything we could and talked to everyone with an opinion, but it was not until we met with Dr. Harman that a strategy began to crystallize. He was careful to lay out all of the options and risks, but did not offer a suggested treatment, choosing to remain emotionally detached. We were at first puzzled and bothered by this approach but quickly realized that this decision was Astri's and mine and no one else's.
Among many options (some of which pain me to even recall today), we chose to do everything to prolong the pregnancy -- bedrest, thrice weekly examinations and daily does of Indomethacin. Once Astri and I decided on this course of action, Dr. Harman became an ally and friend, not just from a medical perspective but from an emotional one as well. He was encouraging and professional at every step of the way and we never once felt that we were in the wrong hands.
The days and months dragged on, and the babies grew. The medicine and the prayers were working. When the babies were finally born at 34 weeks, Astri and I felt like quasi celebrities -- Dr. Harman had corralled the best nurses, anesthesiologists and high-risk doctors in the hospital.
November 14th of that year was one of the happiest days of our life as our two precious girls (Maya Harman and Martha Eleanor) came into the world. As we approach their 4th birthday next week, we remain extraordinarily indebted to Dr. Harman and the entire staff for the treatment and love we received during those trying times.
Below is a letter that I wrote at the time which encapsulates the emotion and gratitude we felt then and continue to feel today:
Dear Dr. Harman, Kristin, Suzi, Debbie and staff-
I cannot possibly put into words my gratitude for all you have done for my family over the past four months. Even though this period has been the most emotionally challenging of my life, I have nevertheless been continually impressed by the level of medical acumen, positive outlook and general friendship you have shared with us. From day one, I felt we were in the best hands possible, and as the babies improved, this feeling was all the more cemented. I am especially thankful for your handling of Astri, who clearly bore the brunt of the emotional ups and downs, yet always emerged from your office with a smile on her troubled face.
In a very bizarre way, I am sad that our thrice weekly visits are over, as I have very much enjoyed developing close relationships with many of you -- it is these friendships that helped us get through the TTTS. However, you are going to have an extremely hard time getting rid of me as I plan to be at every charity function/ golf tournament/ fund raiser that takes place.
Again, I thank you and my family thanks you. We love you all and will always remember how wonderful you have been.
Barrett B. Kollme
For detailed assessment, call the Center for Advanced Fetal Care at 1-888-349-8946 (FIX-TWIN).