An Australian mother of newborn triplets shared a photo on Facebook of her babies’ placenta to illustrate how the amazing organ supported the lives of her little ones in utero. Her doctors dyed the blood vessels to show how nutrients were distributed to each of the three boys. One brother, now called Thomas, “shouldn’t be alive” according to the doctors who pointed out that he was barely receiving any sustenance (shown in yellow at the top), while his two brothers were thriving.
Sammi Edes is the mother of the miracle babies, named Thomas, Geoffrey, and Hunter, pictured above. The boys are identical triplets, which means all three babies shared one placenta in the womb. During her pregnancy, Edes’ doctors realized that one baby was smaller and weaker than the others, which can happen often with multiple births.
At 30 weeks and six days, Edes underwent a Cesarean section in an effort to avoid further danger. All three boys were born alive and healthy, but Thomas weighed just two pounds while his brothers weighed three pounds each. Dr. Ryan Hodges explained why the medical team decided to dye the placenta after the triplets were born. “We were so fascinated to think ‘How on earth did they get that far along?’ so we injected different colored dyes into each umbilical cord into the placenta… Geoffrey was donating his blood into (Thomas) to keep him going.”
Edes posted the placenta photo on the Australian Multiple Birth Association Facebook page with this explanation: “Geoffrey is the green and red. Hunter is the blue and white and Thomas only had the yellow.” The obstetrician who sent her the photo wanted to use it for a seminar, and when Edes asked him why, “his response was Thomas shouldn’t be alive,” Edes wrote, “and to be honest, we don’t know how he survived…”
In a follow-up post, Edes said she shared the photo of her sons’ placenta because “mums don’t really ever get to see and this is our babies lifeline when inside us. It’s pretty amazing to think that was keeping them alive.”
Multiple births often have a shorter gestation period, with a worldwide average of 36 weeks for twins and 32 weeks for triplets. According to U.S. statistics, the vast majority (around 77 percent) of triplets are conceived as a result of fertility treatment. Natural, non-identical triplet births happen at a rate of around one in 4,000, and the odds of conceiving identical triplets without fertility intervention is somewhere between one in 60,000 to one in 200 million, depending on who you ask. These three identical boys were conceived naturally. All three boys are growing and doing well, Edes says. Hunter and Geoffrey are at home, while Thomas is still being kept in the hospital a while longer while he catches up with his bigger brothers.
Images via Sammi Eade/Facebook