Open Accessibility Menu

Presley and Parker's story: Saving preemie twin girls

Presley and Parker's story: Saving preemie twin girls

When Katie and Ryan Collins of Alexandria, Louisiana, found out they were having twin babies, they were not the least bit surprised. Genetically, it ran in their families, and they also had a little help from doctors to speed things along.

“We were trying, and I was having some problems, so my doctor put me on Clomid. It worked the very first go-around,” said Katie. “On March 23, about 8 weeks into the pregnancy, they told us it was twins!”

The twin girls were fraternal, or dizygotic, twins, forming from two separate fertilized eggs. For several weeks, the pregnancy was fairly normal. With Ryan being a professional dog trainer, they decided to hold a gender reveal in which the dogs tore up a target to reveal the color pink. The pregnancy was going smoothly into the second trimester, until doctors spotted something troubling.

“They were concerned about Parker having low amniotic fluid. We went every two weeks to a specialist as well as going to her regular OB. After running several tests, they admitted her into the hospital on July 15th to keep an eye on her,” said Ryan.

Katie was in CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital on bedrest for 20 days, when on July 31, her obstetrician, Dr. Barry Bieber spotted something alarming during a routine exam. She was only 24 weeks and 6 days into her pregnancy.

“The OB came in to do a swab and saw Parker’s feet sticking out,” said Ryan. “He immediately started prepping for an emergency C-section. They didn’t have time for an epidural. They knocked her out. I was at work and got a phone call from Katie’s mom and I got to the hospital in 7 minutes – about half the time. By the time I got there, they were already prepping for delivery. I was waiting outside with her mom.”

At 2:47 p.m., Presley came out at 1 pound, 7 ounces. One minute later, Parker entered the world at 1 pound, 5 ounces.

“Presley, the first one, was a little bit bigger. It took longer to get Parker intubated. They got them both in the NICU and on the oscillator. They were 15 weeks premature, so there was a lot of development that wasn’t there,” said Katie.

Both Parker and Presley had reduced lung capacity, but it was clear from the beginning that Parker would need additional care to survive.

“When I woke up from my C-section, I asked if my babies were alive or are they OK. I didn’t even know if they made it. I had no clue. It was a very scary thought to have my babies that early. I didn’t know what happened,” said Katie. “The first time I got to hold Presley, I cried. She was about three weeks old. These are my first babies, and I didn’t get to have the first look or anything. The first two and a half weeks, I cried every day. It was very emotional.”

Meantime, Parker’s condition was declining. She went on a ventilator and developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). It is the most common and serious intestinal disease among premature babies and happens when tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or inflamed.

Doctors started putting her on antibiotics, but she wasn’t getting any better. On August 25, Parker was transferred to Children’s Hospital New Orleans (CHNOLA) for more specialized care.

“Her stats and her O2 were dropping. I remember it was a rainy night. It was 5 a.m. the next morning when they got there after being airlifted,” said Ryan.

Once she arrived, doctors saw that she was very swollen, intubated and on a ventilator.

“They had concerns about her lungs. It was hazier on x-rays. They put her on different antibiotics, and her platelets dropped. Over the next month, she had quite a few blood transfusions and platelet transfusions,” said Katie.

Doctors believed a heart defect was likely a reason for her declining condition. Parker had Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a blood vessel which every infant is born with and necessary for normal development. After birth, the PDA should naturally close. When it does not, it is a form of congenital heart defect that can cause serious problems in premature infants. On September 1, Dr. Sergio Bartakian at CHNOLA successfully performed surgery to close the PDA.

“Dr. B explained everything to a ‘T’. he brought in the instruments they were going to use, showed us how they were doing it,” said Ryan. “He went up through her groin, and it’s the size of the tip of a pencil. He was able to place what he needed to close her PDA. All she needed was a band aid. It took just 15 minutes.”

“Parker is now starting to slowly recover from that and getting better every day,” said Katie. “I’ve been able to do skin-to-skin with Parker twice, and we hope to take her off the oscillator soon.”

For Ryan, Katie and their son Jaxson, 9, the most challenging part has been the distance and separation.

“It takes a toll on us and our marriage,” said Katie. “Jaxson wants to know when we’ll be home. Before this, I never missed one of his baseball games. I told him that hopefully that’ll change by the time his sisters come home.”

“It’s tough being four hours apart. We’re so used to seeing each other every day. With me taking care of Presley and Katie down with Parker, then me running the business and taking care of Jaxson, it adds up. When Katie was here, she would take him to the baseball games. It’s hard being separate,” said Ryan.

“We haven’t had to worry much about Presley. It’s all been on Parker. I think it would be tougher if they both had the same issues. Presley hasn’t had any health issues,” said Ryan. “We love seeing their transformation over the past few months. They’re actually looking like babies. We have some pictures of Presley where her whole hand fit around the tip of my finger. Her hands are so little,” said Ryan.

“And she’s got some big ole feet!” said Katie.

Doctors say they expect both babies will be able to come home by their original due date, November 14. Presley may end up being ready even earlier, possibly before Halloween.

“I’m already making plans to dress her as a pumpkin,” said Katie. “I went back home to visit Presley on September 7, and they said it’d be about 6 weeks she could come home. They’re looking at bottle feeds and regulating body temperature before we can take her home.”

It has been a long road, but one that Katie and Ryan say they grateful to have the doctors and nursing staff at CHNOLA helping them along the way.

“I’ve loved the nurse practitioner team and nursing staff. Katie liked a nurse named Lauren, who was a night nurse, and Remy, a day nurse. They were very informative and seemed like from the time they took over, their intention was to move her in the right direction,” said Ryan.

“There was also Mandy, a nurse practitioner, whose niece is actually Jaxson’s teacher at school,” said Katie. “She made sure to take the time so I understood everything.”

Katie and Ryan are now counting the days until they take both of their twin baby girls home.

“I’m looking forward to them actually interacting with each other. They’ve never been with each other, so it’s going to be special when they can go in the same crib and touch each other, and see the interaction between the two,” said Ryan. “I can’t wait to see the whole twin telepathy thing.”

The Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a designated Level 4 Facility providing the highest level of care within the state of Louisiana. The unit has 36 critical care beds for newborns and provides care for sick infants with problems resulting from prematurity, birth defects or acquired conditions. The NICU is a state-of-the-art, 11,000-square-foot facility with 24-hour air and ground transport available for the sickest babies. To learn more, visit