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Father's Death May Save Twin Babies
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Tyson Wallis had it all. Seemingly healthy at 30 years old, Tyson and his wife Kristin were deeply in love. After years of trying, they finally had the family they always wanted -- twin baby girls, Olivia and Eleanor.
"He kept saying, 'I finally have everything I've ever wanted,'" Kristin Wallis said. "It was just so perfect. It was really perfect." But tragically, "perfect" couldn't save Tyson from a silent killer -- a killer he had been living with all of his life.
Ten months after their daughters were born, Tyson said goodbye to his wife as she rushed off to work. They said they loved each other, as always. Before Kristin even got to work, a frantic call sent her into a tailspin: Tyson had collapsed. He wasn't breathing. His heart had ruptured, and within hours, he was dead. Within hours, the life he had worked so hard to achieve was gone.
"Out of the blue, my entire world fell apart," Kristin says. "He didn't have heartburn. He didn't have heart or chest pains. He didn't have anything. He was perfect. He was fine."
Tyson Wallis had Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, a condition so rare that only a few hundred people have been diagnosed. For Tyson, his diagnosis came too late, but it may help save the lives of his daughters. The condition enlarges the aorta and tangles smaller blood vessels, weakening them and putting the sufferer at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It is also genetic, and after a few tests, it was determined that Olivia and Eleanor also have Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. Without the tragic discovery of their father's condition, they may have never known.
Dr. Shannon Rivenes at Texas Children's Hospital diagnosed the two girls. They are now on a regimen of medications, and they will likely face surgery in the next few years.
"It's been encouraging, actually, it really is," Rivenes told HLN affiliate KHOU. "So hopefully, we can slow the progression of any of this. What could have been done for [Tyson] is what we're doing for the girls."
"Encouraging" isn't the first word that jumps to mind for Kristin Wallis, who is still facing life without her husband. But Wallis says she is staying strong for him, for their children and for their future.
"I will do whatever I can to honor my husband and his legacy, which is them," she said. "I may not get to be his wife anymore, but I still get to be the mother of his children. "And if I get that honor, I will do the very best I can to make him proud of me."