A heartbroken couple who lost their twin sons to a rare condition have slammed the NHS for missing “multiple chances” to diagnose the condition.

Caroline Willis and Lee Brightman, from High Wycombe, found out Caroline had become pregnant after a round of IVF on the NHS last year, after two years of struggling to conceive naturally.

They found out they were having identical twin boys and were “over the moon” as twins run in both their families – Mr Brightman is a twin and so is Ms Willis’ mother – with Ms Willis saying: “We were so, so over the moon, we waited so long for one baby let alone two.”

But sadly her babies developed Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), which can affect identical twins who share a placenta.

Ms Willis said: “The transfusion causes the donor twin to have decreased blood volume but our babies, little boys, were doing great, so at 22 weeks they decided to change our two weekly scans to three-weekly as they said the chance of TTTS was pretty much non-existent.”

But at 24 weeks, Ms Willis started to get pains under her right ribs. She was told to go to Stoke Mandeville’s A&E department where she was told she was ok, and, upon checking the boys with a scan in the labour ward, the couple was told everything was ok.

However Ms Willis’ pains became stronger and she said she was repeatedly told by hospital staff that everything was ok and not to worry when she called over a few days.

The couple found out Ms Willis was suffering from stage three of TTTS in May this year, with twin one having heart failure and the other “very dehydrated” and transferred to John Radcliffe Hospital in case Ms Willis went into premature labour.

Sadly the couple’s first twin, Leo, was stillborn and the second, Tyler, was born without a heartbeat. He was revived by hospital staff and survived for a few days, before also passing away in hospital.

Ms Willis said: “[A few days later] we left the hospital and headed home. It was not right, we shouldn’t have been coming home to our house without our children.

“The house was empty and so were we. Our dream of being parents was shattered and our world had crumbled.”

The couple were then dealt another blow when they were told they were no longer eligible for another round of IVF since their first round had resulted in a pregnancy.

Their GP wrote a letter to the funding board to urge them to reconsider but this was also refused.

Ms Willis said: “We [then] had a meeting with our consultant from Stoke Mandeville who admitted that the hospital had missed a window to diagnose twin-to-twin transfusion which had occurred with our boys.

“On top of this we were told the doctors who had been telling us everything was ok every time we went to the hospital in the week leading to the boys’ birth, did not have training to recognise twin to twin transfusion.

“Why? Our boys would have had a better chance of survival if this wasn't the case. Twin-to-twin transfusion needs more awareness.

“We are now faced with very little optimism in our dream to become parents to living children. It is not a fight we are willing to give up on but one that seems to be back to the first stages in 2013.

“We owe it to our boys to fight and fight hard to achieve what we have longed for, for so long and give them a baby brother or sister to love, care for, guide and watch grow.

“Our boys will forever be our first born children, and will be loved, remembered and honoured always.”

Heidi Beddall, head of midwifery at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The loss of a child is a profoundly sad time for all concerned, and we offer our sincere condolences to the couple and their family on the loss of their babies.

“The couple’s consultant has met with them to discuss the care provided.”

A statement from NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We offer our sincere condolences for the sad loss this couple has experienced.

“Buckinghamshire CCG, like other CCGs locally, has a policy by which IVF treatments are managed for equity of access. However, there is also a process by which individual cases can be considered in exceptional circumstances.”

A JustGiving page has been set up to help the couple fund another round of IVF. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/baby-brightman.