Meet the Teeters: Two of a kind - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Meet the Teeters: Two of a kind

by Cami Mountain

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- When a child is born with any type of physical or mental disability, a parent's life changes forever.  But imagine if both of your children have disabilities.  It's a reality for a Wausau couple.

A few weeks ago, I met Chris and Annie Teeters.  The couple, married almost eight years now, always dreamed of having the perfect family, including children.  They got their wish, a beautiful boy and a girl.

But their births weren't typical in any sense of the word.  In part one of this special report, meet Zak and Callie.

You wouldn't know just by glancing, but Zak Teeters is five years old.  He can't walk on his own, he doesn't talk and is legally blind. 

Zak was born with a chromosome abnormality known as Unbalanced Translocation.  It was passed to him in the womb, unknowingly, by his mom Annie.

"Chromosome three and six, I'm a carrier, they switch spots.  "Annie says, "When we had kids, they're missing part of chromosome three and they have extra chromosome six."

The abnormality, undetected during pregnancy, noticeable the minute he's delivered by C-section.

"Once Zak was born, I heard the doctors gasp basically."  Chris, Zak's dad says, "I looked up and as Zak was being delivered, he was covered in a mucus and wasn't crying.  Something was going on.  I didn't get a good feeling from the room that everything was ok."

Just minutes after birth, Zak flat lines in the nursery.  Luckily, doctors revive him and eventually figure out he cant breathe through his nose.  It's just the start of many medical problems to come.  In just a few short years he's had surgery to open his nasal passage, surgery to lift his eyelids and a major surgery repairing his spinal cord.  That one left him in a full body cast for a year and a brace for another six months.

But with all of Zak's medical issues, the Teeters want baby number two, even though they know that baby could have the same issues.

"We knew I was a carrier." Annie remembers, "We had a 16% chance of it happening again and we decided to put it in God's hands."

Several minutes after Baby Callie is born, it's clear she has the same chromosome abnormality.  In fact, they're the only two known children in the entire world with the same exact breaks.

With Callie's birth comes many of the same medical issues and surgeries as her big brother.  Between them they've had 21 operations.  The condition leaves than much smaller than children their own age and developmentally behind.

"Zak is five years old and he's still working on crawling and talking.  Basically, he relies on a caregiver for all his essential needs.  So, developmentally he's been evaluated at about twelve months."  Chris says, "Callie; she's fourteen months now and developmentally, I think, she's four or five months, developmentally wise.  She's just now working on rolling from her back to her stomach to her back."

The Teeters kids do the same things as other kids, just at their own pace.  And their parents applaud every milestone, big and small.

Annie says, "We called everyone when Callie first grabbed a Link-A-Do and held it.  It's like, "Oh my gosh! Callie is holding a toy!"

Since Zak and Callie's diagnosis is so rare it's incredibly understudied.  Chris and Annie have no blueprint, no other cases to use as an example.

"Life expectancy is normal."  Annie says, "They don't have anything saying they're going to pass at a certain time."

That leaves the future wide open and the Teeters living for the day.

"We have high hopes that Zak is going to be able to walk someday and that Callie will walk and they will learn to get around our house.  But, you just don't know, just dreams."

Online Reporter:  Cami Mountain

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