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Mom who gives birth to twin boys with spina bifida says ‘God has a plan’

Linna Nieves holds Micah for the first time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Akron Children's Hospital. Micah and identical twin brother, Cairo, were born May 4 at 31-weeks gestation. Both have spina bifida and needed surgery just 1 day after birth (Credit: Akron's Children's Hospital)

(EEW Magazine News) After trying to get pregnant for several years, Linna Nieves was thrilled to discover she was expecting twins. Early in the pregnancy, however, doctors found both boys had spina bifida, the first documented case of identical twins with the birth defect.


Linna and her husband, Heriberto, of Austintown, Ohio, embraced the challenges that would come both with her pregnancy and the boys after birth.

Early ultrasounds during her 19th week of pregnancy revealed that both boys had open neural tube defects. Several providers suggested the Nieves might want to consider terminating the pregnancy.

“Termination was absolutely not an option for us,” said Linna. “I was already thinking ahead, about what I was going to do to support my boys.”

Because of their open neural tube defects, Linna wasn’t able to hold her boys directly after birth, a moment many moms especially savor.(Credit: Akron's Children's Hospital)

Under the direction of Drs. Melissa Mancuso and Katherine Wolfe, perinatologists with Akron Children's Hospital's Maternal Fetal Medicine, every possible detail of the birth, delivery and postnatal care were prepared.

"It was hard for us," said Linna. "But when we heard the diagnosis, my family and friends came together. We knew we had to do whatever it takes to give the boys the best quality of life possible."

Linna also met with neurosurgeons Drs. Tsulee Chen and Gwyneth Hughes to prepare for the babies' surgeries that would need to take place as quickly as possible to prevent infection.

Born on May 4 at 31-weeks gestation Micah weighed 2 lbs., 11 oz., and Cairo weighed 3 lbs., 13 oz. Because of their open neural tube defects, Linna wasn't able to hold her boys right away. Both were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Akron Children's, where doctors performed surgery to repair their spines.

Today, the boys are recovering well from their surgeries. While Linna and her family know there's a long road ahead, she's grateful for her boys. Micah is already showing improvement, and much to Linna's delight, she was able to cuddle with him for the first time on May 10.

"They may be identical twins, but each of my boys have an individual path in life, and are going to be amazing people in their own right," said Linna. "Having a disability certainly isn't going to keep them from changing the world in their own way. God has a plan for each of my boys and we're going to support them in every way possible all along the way."

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