When Heather and Riley Delaney found out they were ᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛɪɴɢ three months after their wedding, they were ecstatic. But at their first ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ, 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 ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ, things just looked funny. They looked as if they were leaning on each other. He got really quiet and ꜰɪᴅɢᴇᴛʏ and he said: ” I’m trying to find a ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ ʙᴇᴛᴡᴇᴇɴ the two of them but I can’t find on, I think they might be ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ.” Heather said within 30 seconds the ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ 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 ᴄᴏɴᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴ 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 ᴘᴇʀᴄᴇɴᴛ ᴄʜᴀɴᴄᴇ her girls would sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ and make it ᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ separation sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ, she ɢᴀᴠᴇ ʙɪʀᴛʜ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴡɪɴs Abby and Erin at 30 weeks ᴠɪᴀ ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴄᴀᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ, Tᴡɪɴs sʜᴀʀᴇᴅ ᴋᴇʏ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴇssᴇʟs and ᴀ ᴘʀᴏᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ʙʀᴀɪɴs, making the sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ɪɴᴄʀᴇᴅɪʙʟʏ ᴅɪꜰꜰɪᴄᴜʟᴛ.
Dr Jesse Taylor said: “Sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛɪɴɢ ᴄᴏɴᴊᴏɪɴᴇᴅ Tᴡɪɴs is a very ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇx sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ꜰᴏʟʟᴏᴡᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴀ ʟᴏɴɢ and ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛᴇᴅ ʀᴇᴄᴏᴠᴇʀy, but we are very hopeful for a ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴏᴜᴛᴄᴏᴍᴇ.” Dr Taylor is a ᴘʟᴀsᴛɪᴄ sᴜʀɢᴇᴏɴ and helped lead a ᴍᴜʟᴛɪᴅɪsᴄɪᴘʟɪɴᴀʀʏ team of more than 30 people.The ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ʀᴇǫᴜɪʀᴇᴅ ɪɴᴛᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ planning and preparation by the team.Dᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs marked monitors and equipment with green or purple ᴛᴀᴘᴇ, one colour ᴀssɪɢɴᴇᴅ to each little girl. Co-lead ɴᴇᴜʀᴏsᴜʀɢᴇᴏɴ Dr Gregory Heuer said: “During the separation sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ, our team first ᴍᴇᴛɪᴄᴜʟᴏᴜsʟʏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ɪɴꜰᴀɴᴛs’ sʜᴀʀᴇᴅ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴇssᴇʟs ᴀɴᴅ ᴅᴜʀᴀ, the ᴛᴏᴜɢʜ ᴘʀᴏᴛᴇᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ ᴍᴇᴍʙʀᴀɴᴇ sᴜʀʀᴏᴜɴᴅɪɴɢ ʙᴏᴛʜ ʙʀᴀɪɴs, then ᴍᴏᴠᴇᴅ ᴏɴ ᴛᴏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴛʜᴇ sᴀɢɪᴛᴛᴀʟ sɪɴᴜs, the most ᴅɪꜰꜰɪᴄᴜʟᴛ portion of the ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. Finally, we divided our team into two halves, one for each of the girls, and ꜰɪɴɪsʜᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴄᴏɴsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴘᴏʀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ.”
They finally ᴜɴᴅᴇʀᴡᴇɴᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪsᴋʏ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ ᴛᴏ sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛᴇ them at 10 months old. Heather shared on the her TikTok account: “Tʜᴇ sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ went well, but Abby ᴇsᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟʟʏ had some ɪssᴜᴇs. She ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟʟʏ lost 10 to 15 times her ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴏʟᴜᴍᴇ and the ᴀɴᴀᴇsᴛʜᴇsɪᴏʟᴏɢɪsᴛ said they had never seen that before and had the person sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ .” Tᴡɪɴs Abby and Erin spend 485 days in ʜᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ Incredibly, The girls are among the youngest Tᴡɪɴs joined at the head to be successfully sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛᴇᴅ.
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 ᴛᴜʙᴇs, 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 ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪɴɢ 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 ᴘᴇʀᴄᴇɴᴛ 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.”