Twins attending USC reunite with doctor who helped save them 17 years ago and now works at university

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Seventeen years after Dr. Ramen Chmait saved the lives of twins Aspen and Ashley Somers, he discovered that they were accepted to the University of Southern California, where he now works as an associate professor and as director of the school’s fetal surgery program.

“We just want to say thank you because you saved our lives and helped us get to where we are today,” Aspen Somers, 17, told the doctor over a Zoom call Tuesday. “Without you, we probably wouldn’t exist.”

The twins’ mother, Michelle Somers, was 20 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a complication with a high morbidity rate.

“There’s about a 90 or 95% chance of losing the pregnancy,” said Chmait, who was a fetal surgery specialist working in Florida at the time while the Somers were in Colorado.

“I met these twins when they were still fetuses,” he said. “There’s very few centers in the world that offer the surgery. She came in and we did her surgery and fortunately, the surgery went very well and they went back to Colorado and delivered the twins.”

Inspired by their experience, the Somers went on to start a nonprofit called the Fetal Health Foundation to help other familes.

“They have definitely paid it forward. That’s how come I remember them so well,” Chmait said.

The doctor joined USC in 2006 and learned through Facebook recently that the twins would be attending the university in the fall.

“It does feel full circle, and frankly, it makes me feel old,” he said.

The twins start virtual instruction next week and say they are looking forward to reconnecting with the doctor once the campus reopens after the pandemic.

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