Conjoined Twins at Home as Parents Opt Out of Separation Surgery

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 07:44 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Conjoined twins born to a Pennsylvania couple arrived home for the first time this week after their parents decided not to risk separation surgery.

The two-week-old Andrew and Garrett were born to Michelle Van Horne and Kody Stancombe, who discovered that they would likely be having conjoined twins after getting an ultrasound near the end of the first trimester, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

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"It was difficult hearing. I was scared and nervous," Michelle said. "We were told that I was going to have a stillbirth."

They were also cautioned that the babies might not survive a few hours or days after birth.

Andrew and Garrett were born healthy, however, sharing a heart and a liver.

"They're breathing good. They're crying. They're doing everything a normal infant would do. That's why we see them as our miracle babies," she told reporters at WPXI Pittsburgh. She said that so far they've been sleeping through the night and eating healthy portions as well. 

Conjoined twins occur roughly once in every 200,000 live births when a fertilized egg fails to separate completely as it undergoes cell division, and each one of those usually fall into one of five types of conjoinment. Of the 200 or so conjoined twins born each year, roughly half do not survive past their first birthdays.

Those that share a heart like Andrew and Garrett are rare, and there are no documented cases of twins surviving that type of separation, though doctors continue to improve in separating other organs.

For now, Van Horne said they're just happy to have the twins home. They've figured out how to snap the babies' outfits together to keep them warm, and they're getting the swing of the diapers, too.

"They’ll continue to fight until it’s their time. We will love them and cherish them until that moment and continue even after," said Van Horn.

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