Meet Shannon & Twins | Patient Stories at Blank Children's Hospital

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Blank Children's Hospital

Shannon and Twins

Shannon McQuillen, marketing director at UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge, can speak with firsthand knowledge about the continuum of care available through UnityPoint Health. When she was pregnant with twins and needed special care, she received it at multiple locations throughout the UnityPoint Health family.

Just after Christmas two years ago, Shannon began having contractions at 19 weeks, though not dilating. Robert T. O'Connor, DO, OB/GYN at UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge, recommended six and a half weeks of bed rest at home. At the end of that time, it was clear Shannon needed additional care.

"At 25 weeks, I was spotting and was dilated between 4 and 5 centimeters," Shannon says. "I needed to stay pregnant for at least five more weeks, so Dr. O'Connor had me transferred by helicopter LifeFlight air ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines."

Fort Dodge to Des Moines

Karen L. Drake, MD, perinatologist at Iowa Methodist, began providing care for Shannon and remained in regular contact with Dr. O'Connor every step of the way.

"Dr. Drake and Dr. O'Connor were wonderful," Shannon says. "They teamed up to care for me. Dr. O'Connor was very involved and took a personal interest."

Dr. O'Connor, who has twins himself, even came to visit Shannon in Des Moines.

"One of my kids was having surgery at Iowa Methodist," Dr. O'Connor says. "It was a good opportunity to see Shannon. I had confidence in sending her there. I know the physicians, and they're extremely skilled in handling high-risk cases."

The first order of business when Shannon arrived at Iowa Methodist was to stop labor. At 25 weeks, her twins weighed only about a pound each. If delivered, their survival rate would have been low, and complications would have been a virtual certainty.

The Iowa Methodist team was able to stop her labor. Shannon remained on bed rest at Iowa Methodist until, at just under 32 weeks, she gave birth to a pair of beautiful baby boys-Max, who weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces, and Lance, who was an even 4 pounds.

In the NICU

After delivery, Lance and Max went into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Blank Children's Hospital, where Bradley J. Riley, MD and Samir Alabsi, MD, collaborated on their care.

"Max and Lance were NICU rock stars," Shannon says. "They did really well there. I'm so proud of them. They made such great progress, and the entire team at Blank Children's was awesome. I stayed in Des Moines to take care of Max and Lance, to personally feed them and bond with them. I was away from home for about 10 weeks. My husband, Vaughn, and my son Jackson visited when they could, but I missed being with them. It was hard, but everyone in Des Moines and throughout UnityPoint Health did such an outstanding job and made everything as easy as possible."

Shannon, Max and Lance all went home the week before Easter 2012.

Follow-up Care

After Shannon and her twins returned to Fort Dodge, the specialists from UnityPoint at Home began regular visits. They helped Max and Lance overcome developmental issues that often accompany premature birth.

"Max and Lance are doing great," Shannon says. "UnityPoint at Home continued working with the twins until they were almost 2. The people at UnityPoint Health, from the physicians to nurses to the staff and volunteers-at every stop along the way-were invested in our care. They were amazing."

To learn more about UnityPoint Health, visit UnityPoint.org.