Can you imagine the thrill of finding out you're pregnant—with twins—and then at your 15-week check up being told that you are having conjoined twins? Not only that, but they are conjoined in such a rare way that there are only 35 other recorded cases in the world and none of them have survived. That's the reality for Australians Renee Young and Simon Howie, who were told their daughters will have separate but identical faces on a shared skull with two brains on one brain stem, and will share a body. According to doctors this type of duplication, known as craniofacial hyperhidrosis or diprosopus, is so rare that the chances of having this happen is between one in a million and one in two million.
"Shocked" and "confused" the couple drove home silently, still processing the information, not ready to even speak to each other about it. Though doctors advised a late term abortion (since Renee was already in the second trimester), the couple agreed that was not an option for them, believing that having conjoined twins was the same as being told, "a child had autism or down syndrome". "I don't believe in terminating the baby if it's healthy and growing fine," said Simon.
The couple—who already have seven other children—are determined to see the pregnancy through even though doctors say the baby will likely not survive past birth (and if she did, the costs of treatment would be off the charts). "If I only get two days with my daughters, at least I have some time with them," Renee told A Current Affair at 19 weeks. "And their brothers and sisters get to meet them."
Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.