Parents of Conjoined Twin Boys Opt to Keep Them Together
byKaitlin StanfordApr 28, 2014
Living your life literally attached at the hip to your sibling isn't one most people would choose if it were up to them. But for Michelle Van Horne and Kody Stancombe, it's a journey their twin boys Andrew and Garrett were meant to take.
The first-time parents were faced with the very difficult decision recently over whether or not to separate the brothers, who are connected from the breastbone to the waist. (A condition known as omphalopagus.) While their chance of survival is already pretty low, the chance that both twins would survive a surgical separation is even lower, according to doctors. Ultimately, the Indiana, Pennsylvania parents felt that the risk of losing one of their boys was just too great, and they chose instead to keep them together.
"It would hurt to lose one and have the other," the twins' mom told CNN. "They were born together; they can stay together."
The twins, who were born on April 10, have already beat the odds. Dad Kody noted how lucky they were to even be alive. "I'm thankful they were able to survive this long, and are still going strong," he said in an interview.
Part of what's so amazing about their progress so far is the fact that the boys share a liver and a heart. Only 33 percent of conjoined twins are connected in this way.
While doctors have been increasingly successful at separating conjoined twins who share organs in recent years, separating those who share a heart is especially risky—hence the hesitation of Van Horne and Stancombe.
For now, though, babies Andrew and Garrett are by all reports doing well, breathing on their own, sleeping and (every parent's favorite) crying.
"For me, (the best part) is being able to hold them and hear them cry and know they're here with me," Van Horne told CNN's affiliate WTAE. "Definitely, changing their diapers and bathing them is a two-person job for me."