An Australian woman has miraculously given birth to conjoined twins with one body and two brains despite doctors initially telling them to terminate the pregnancy. Renee Young and Simon Howie, of Tregear in Sydney’s west, welcomed their daughters on Thursday six weeks before they were due.
The couple, who found out via an ultrasound that the twins they were expecting was in fact one child with two symmetrical faces and two brains connected to the one brain stem, said doctors were shocked by the girls’ exceptional progress.
‘They are breathing perfectly on their own and feeding,’ Mr Howie told Woman’s Day. Ms Young gave birth to the girls, named Faith and Hope, via an emergency caesarean at Blacktown Hospital last Thursday.
The girls were born with a rare condition called diprosopus, which means they share the same body and organs but have separate brains and two faces. ‘Even though there is only one body, we call them our twins. To us, they are our girls and we love them,’ Mr Howie said.
They were transferred to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead shortly after they were born. ‘We have no idea how long they will be in hospital. We just want to bring them home, happy and healthy to make our family a little bit bigger and a bit more chaotic,’ Mr Howie said. Details about how the girls will now function are not clear but doctors will continue to closely monitor the pair over the next few weeks.
The condition is so rare that only 35 cases have ever been recorded and none have survived. The couple, who are parents to seven other children, were told early on in the pregnancy not to keep the child ‘because it would be looked upon by the public as a freak’. They defied the doctors because Ms Young had never terminated a pregnancy and because they had a family ‘that gives us a lot of support’.
In February, maternal foetal specialist Greg Kesby told A Current Affair the girls may not survive to a live birth. ‘It’s probably the rarest of all the conjoined twins, you’d be thinking numbers of one in a million to one in two million for this kind of anomaly,’ he said.