When Heather and Riley Delaney found out they were ᴇxᴘᴇᴄtɪɴɢ three months after their wedding, they were ecstatic. But at their first ᴜʟtʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ, they realised this wasn’t going to be a normal ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ. Heather shared: “As soon as the image came on the screen, you could tell it was Tᴡɪɴs”. But as the doctor was going through the ᴜʟtʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ, things just looked funny. They looked as if they were leaning on each other. He got really quiet and ꜰɪᴅɢᴇtʏ and he said: ” I’m trying to find a ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ ʙᴇtᴡᴇᴇɴ the two of them but I can’t find on, I think they might be ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ.” Heather said within 30 seconds the ᴜʟtʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ was over and they were sent to a specialist who confirmed their little girls were, in fact, ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ at the head. The chances of ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠɪɴɢ this way are around 1 in 2.5 million. Sᴄᴀɴs revealed the girls suffered a ᴄᴏɴᴅɪtɪᴏɴ called ᴄʀᴀɴɪᴏᴘᴀɢᴜs, the least common type of ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ Tᴡɪɴs.
ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ Tᴡɪɴs Abby and Erin ᴜɴᴅᴇʀɢᴏ separation sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ While Heather was told there was a ᴏɴᴇ ᴘᴇʀᴄᴇɴt ᴄʜᴀɴᴄᴇ her girls would sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ and make it tʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ separation sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ, she ɢᴀᴠᴇ ʙɪʀtʜ tᴏ tᴡɪɴs Abby and Erin at 30 weeks ᴠɪᴀ ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴄᴀᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ, Tᴡɪɴs sʜᴀʀᴇᴅ ᴋᴇʏ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴇssᴇʟs and ᴀ ᴘʀᴏtᴇᴄtɪᴠᴇ ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ tʜᴇɪʀ ʙʀᴀɪɴs, making the sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ɪɴᴄʀᴇᴅɪʙʟʏ ᴅɪꜰꜰɪᴄᴜʟt.
Dr Jesse Taylor said: “Sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀtɪɴɢ ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ Tᴡɪɴs is a very ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇx sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ꜰᴏʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴀ ʟᴏɴɢ and ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀtᴇᴅ ʀᴇᴄᴏᴠᴇʀy, but we are very hopeful for a ᴘᴏsɪtɪᴠᴇ ᴏᴜtᴄᴏᴍᴇ.” Dr Taylor is a ᴘʟᴀstɪᴄ sᴜʀɢᴇᴏɴ and helped lead a ᴍᴜʟtɪᴅɪsᴄɪᴘʟɪɴᴀʀʏ team of more than 30 people.The ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀtɪᴏɴ ʀᴇǫᴜɪʀᴇᴅ ɪɴtᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ planning and preparation by the team.Dᴏᴄtᴏʀs marked monitors and equipment with green or purple tᴀᴘᴇ, one colour ᴀssɪɢɴᴇᴅ to each little girl. Co-lead ɴᴇᴜʀᴏsᴜʀɢᴇᴏɴ Dr Gregory Heuer said: “During the separation sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ, our team first ᴍᴇtɪᴄᴜʟᴏᴜsʟʏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀtᴇᴅ tʜᴇ ɪɴꜰᴀɴts’ sʜᴀʀᴇᴅ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴇssᴇʟs ᴀɴᴅ ᴅᴜʀᴀ, the tᴏᴜɢʜ ᴘʀᴏtᴇᴄtɪᴠᴇ ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ sᴜʀʀᴏᴜɴᴅɪɴɢ ʙᴏtʜ ʙʀᴀɪɴs, then ᴍᴏᴠᴇᴅ ᴏɴ tᴏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀtᴇ tʜᴇ sᴀɢɪttᴀʟ sɪɴᴜs, the most ᴅɪꜰꜰɪᴄᴜʟt portion of the ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀtɪᴏɴ. Finally, we divided our team into two halves, one for each of the girls, and ꜰɪɴɪsʜᴇᴅ tʜᴇ ʀᴇᴄᴏɴstʀᴜᴄtɪᴏɴ ᴘᴏʀtɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ tʜᴇ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ.”
They finally ᴜɴᴅᴇʀᴡᴇɴt tʜᴇ ʀɪsᴋʏ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ tᴏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀtᴇ them at 10 months old. Heather shared on the her TikTok account: “Tʜᴇ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ went well, but Abby ᴇsᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟʟʏ had some ɪssᴜᴇs. She ᴀᴄtᴜᴀʟʟʏ lost 10 to 15 times her ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ and the ᴀɴᴀᴇstʜᴇsɪᴏʟᴏɢɪst said they had never seen that before and had the person sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ .” Tᴡɪɴs Abby and Erin spend 485 days in ʜᴏsᴘɪtᴀʟ Incredibly, The girls are among the youngest Tᴡɪɴs joined at the head to be successfully sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀtᴇᴅ.
Now five years old, Heather says the girls have what she likes to call “sᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟ sᴜᴘᴇʀᴘᴏᴡᴇʀs” and she now shares their journey on TikTok to show what life with sᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟ ɴᴇᴇᴅs children is really like. Heather said: “They both have ꜰᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ tᴜʙᴇs, they are fed primarily through those. They are right now ɴᴏɴ-ᴠᴇʀʙᴀʟ, a lot of that has to do with some of the ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ ꜰʀᴏᴍ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʙʀᴀɪɴ ʙʟᴇᴇᴅs. They do understand a lot and they can do a lot, they just have a hard time ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀtɪɴɢ back and forth. Abby and Erin are our little miracles. Reflecting on the journey with their daughters, Heather said: ” They felt so lucky to be watching their Tᴡɪɴs grow up, because the girls were only given a ᴏɴᴇ ᴘᴇʀᴄᴇɴt ᴄʜᴀɴᴄᴇ of Sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ. It’s a long journey, it’s a ʜᴀʀᴅ ᴊᴏᴜʀɴᴇʏ. But we couldn’t be more grateful that our girls were with us.”