Conjoined Twins Find a Life Apart

At a clinic in Salt Lake City, the ultrasound technician moved the transducer in slow circles over Erin Herrin’s abdomen. Erin, 20 and already the mother of a two-year-old girl, was 18 weeks into her second pregnancy.

“Wow! Do you see that?” said the sonographer, zeroing in on a pair of small, fluttering images. “Two hearts! Congratulations-you’re having twins.” Erin wasn’t entirely surprised; she’d felt extra kicks this time, though her obstetrician had heard only one heartbeat during earlier tests. She grinned at her husband, Jake, 21, who stood holding her hand.

Miracle Conjoined Herrin Twins

Then the sonographer stopped the exam. “Just a minute,” she said. “I want the radiologist to take a look at this.”

The Herrins waited anxiously as the specialist arrived and studied the ultrasound scans. “It looks like you’re having conjoined twin girls,” he said at last, his tone apologetic. “I really can’t tell you much more than that.” He scheduled an appointment for them to meet with a perinatologist the following Monday—four long days away.

On the drive home, Erin, a homemaker, ran down a preliminary list of questions: Where are the babies connected? Can they be separated? Will they ever have a normal life? Are they even going to live? Jake, a computer network manager, tried to reassure her. “Let’s not panic,” he said. “Maybe they’re just attached by a bit of skin and there’s a way to fix it.”

As it turned out, the twins shared a great deal more than that. If they made it to term, their only hope of independence—from each other as well as from their caregivers—would be a surgical procedure of almost unimaginable complexity. In fact, it would be the first operation of its kind.

When they got home from the clinic that fall day in 2001, Jake and Erin looked up conjoined twins online. They learned that in 1 out of 100,000 pregnancies, a fertilized egg fails to divide fully into identical twins, leaving two fetuses joined at some point along their bodies. For unknown reasons, about 70 percent are girls, and in most cases, their shared internal organs are severely deformed. Up to 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn; of those who survive birth, 35 percent live only one day. The overall survival rate is 25 percent.

The first successful separation took place in Switzerland in 1689—a simple case involving superficially joined twins. But such operations remained almost unheard-of until surgical techniques improved in the 1950s. Since then, a few dozen sets of twins worldwide have been separated. Survival rates vary depending on where the twins are connected, from 82 percent for those joined only at the abdomen to zero for those who share a heart.

See also:
10 Questions You Shouldn’t Ask a New Mom
10 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman
50 Secrets Your Nurse Won’t Tell You
Parents Wrongly Accused of Child Abuse

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57 thoughts on “Conjoined Twins Find a Life Apart

  1. Today is March 2014.This amazing life experience started in 2001. Update please. Also, nothing more was said about the second set of twins. Yes, an update is warranted.

  2. Thanks to God and his presence through out the eyars to the entire family and medical group.

    Amen.

  3. They are so fortunate to have been born into this family..Most young women today would have aborted them without a second thought.

    1. EARTH TO WES:
      No matter the circumstances, there is not a woman alive who would have, or has had, an abortion “without a second thought”.

      I guess that leaves you to conclude that own mother ended up giving you three thoughts. Lucky her.

  4. I saw the documentary profiling this family on TLC.  The scene where they say goodbye (before the surgery) makes me cry just thinking about it.  What amazing little girls and parents!

  5. Amazing to think that this could have happened to my 2 year old identical twin boys. God bless this family and I pray for a wonderful life ahead for all of them!

  6. Thank god they had/have money and insurance…. My daughter @ that age took off the training wheels on her bike and road 100 yards down our small dirt country road… and didn’t look back all the way, and I cryed watching her go…. Just symbolic, to me, of what was to come… I was blessed as were these kids by the affluance and luck of the draw… But, W/O, there isn’t even the circus for the life of a side show attraction…. And in the “third world”, what? In India they could have been very proffitable beggars…  Lucky kids… If they were mine they’de be in “IT” deep…. I couldn’t do it for’em and it’d kill me… 

  7. wow..that’s an incredible story. I admire the strength of the parents to be so young and face those kinds of decisions and worry….I hope the years ahead are blessed with health and happiness

    1. It said they were superficially joined. It was probably just skin; much more complicated medical procedures than that took place in ancient Greece.

  8. Thank you for the update on this outstanding family. I have read about them over time in the Reader’s Digest, Large Print Edition. So, it is exceptionally heart warming to hear about their further progress. It is interesting to note that as the girl’s needs have progressed, so has medicine’s advances. Let’s home that remains the same for the Herrin family and all those in need. My, what a wonderful world!

  9. Gee, this amazing story should be made for movie or TV program someday so we all can enjoy viewing that unique story!

  10. I’m in tears….so heartwarming…I have twin granddaughters…Can’t even imagine what everyone went through…Inspiring….Amazing…God Bless you all!

  11. Being an identicle twin I can only think that it so easily could have been me and my sister joined together.  Believe me, I can’t imagine being joined to her 24/7.  But I also know there is a special bond between us.  That will never be seperated from these two either.

  12. I am happy to hear both survived the operation.  They have humanity now.  I can’t believe how many are born and are not separated at birth.  I think a law should be passed that they should be conjoined at birth. The parents and the girls have patience, faith, love and civil rights.   

  13. I am happy to hear both survived the operation.  They have humanity now.  I can’t believe how many are born and are not separated at birth.  I think a law should be passed that they should be conjoined at birth. The parents and the girls have patience, faith, love and civil rights.   

  14. One place in the article it mentions rude comments from strangers. WHO would make rude comments to young mother just because her twins are co-joined??
    This is an amazing story. I’m glad everything worked out for the girls and their family.

      1. Meanwhile the Republicans (who would have criticized her for choosing the safer, more practical route of termination–what about that poor older child? How would they have explained that her mother had chosen the well-being of a couple fetuses over her living, breathing daughter?) would be busily trying to deny healthcare coverage and any “handouts” the family might be qualified to receive. People like you are disgusting. You’re not a patriot; Republicanism is about as far from the founding fathers’ credo as it could possibly get.

  15. I know you’re all excited with praise for this young couple and the girls. And what they’ve sacrificed is amazing. But did you ever stop to think that while this couple is producing babies at an ASTOUNDING rate, there are uncounted untold millions of babies going without the basics of care, food and water? While this young healthy family consumes unlimited resources for children that would have easily passed before birth, if nature had run its course. Just saying.

    1. You are an idiot. Nature did “take its course” and those 2 girls survived and thrived and were meant to be here. The only thing the medical establishment did was separate them. Not to mention over population is a myth created by the liberals. 

      1. No, “nature” did not take its course. An extremely complex medical intervention took its course. It’s interesting how willing conservatives are to bow to scientific knowledge when it comes to life-saving procedures or fertility treatments, considering how quick they are to criticize the same community when they disagree with what it has to say. YOU’RE the idiot. The article clearly stated that their lives would have been at risk if nature had been allowed to take its course. The problem of over-population has nothing to do with physical space; the issue lies with the availability and distribution of resources. Experts predict that oil will disappear within the next 20-30 years, water will become scarce next. (Ask anyone in California or the Southwestern United States about how often they have to conserve water.)

    2. You are an idiot. Nature did “take its course” and those 2 girls survived and thrived and were meant to be here. The only thing the medical establishment did was separate them. Not to mention over population is a myth created by the liberals. 

  16. I know you’re all excited with praise for this young couple and the girls. And what they’ve sacrificed is amazing. But did you ever stop to think that while this couple is producing babies at an ASTOUNDING rate, there are uncounted untold millions of babies going without the basics of care, food and water? While this young healthy family consumes unlimited resources for children that would have easily passed before birth, if nature had run its course. Just saying.

  17. I know you’re all excited with praise for this young couple and the girls. And what they’ve sacrificed is amazing. But did you ever stop to think that while this couple is producing babies at an ASTOUNDING rate, there are uncounted untold millions of babies going without the basics of care, food and water? While this young healthy family consumes unlimited resources for children that would have easily passed before birth, if nature had run its course. Just saying.

  18. So who paid for and will continue to pay for the enormous medical cost for these children?  At such a young age the parents would not usually have the resources to pay for even the 20% co-pay that most insurance would require. While this seems to be a wonderful story, one wonders about the true costs to others for this decision to have these children.

    1. “One” can keep wondering but this is and was the family’s own decision only not yours, mine, or even the government’s.  Abortion is a personal decision with the majority vote going to the mother.  While I personally don’t believe in abortion I don’t think that decision is in the parameter of social, religious, or governmental interference.  Also, how can “one” put a price tag on the life of a child?  Maybe on the terminally ill adult witholding medical care because of expense could be justified by “one”.  But I sure wouldn’t want to be the “one” making that decision.

  19. Okay, so the girl was what 20 when she had her first baby? I’m not really going to get into that because this was an inspiring and heart felt article, but really? 21 and having twins?

  20. I am a mother of twins. This story is truly amazing! May God bless and continue to work his miricales in  your family.  

  21. what a wonderful story and such beautiful little happy girls you have. God Bless you all in your life ahead.

  22. What a wonderful heart warming story. My daughter has twins who are very healthy and when I read a story like this I know how blessed we are. Kendra and Maliyah will grow into wonderful women and they will contine to bless Jake and Erin.  Thank G-d for such tegnology. The doctors that dedicate themselves to help make miracles like this happen. There is a special place in Heaven for them. My congatulations and my very best wishes to this very beautiful family.

    1.  God Bless the doctors who took the time to give these girls a new life.  It must have been a wonderful feeling for them to see what they alone had accomplished.  These girls are very lucky to have such a wonderful family and medical help.

  23. I have to say that the mom was very young when she made this choice and I must give props where props are due.  I don’t think I could of done it. 

  24. I have to say that the mom was very young when she made this choice and I must give props where props are due.  I don’t think I could of done it. 

  25. Loving story…May God Bless all of you forever…love to all. <3

  26. Wow, these girls are little miracles! I feel SO happy for the parents!

  27. A heartwarming story.  Wishing the very best for this family, especially the girls, with their new found freedom to enjoy life to the fullest.  God bless them all.

  28.  Oh my goodness!  I could just hug them to death!  What a couple of sweethearts & well adjusted.  Thanks to the parents! So blessed.

  29. I am so happy for the girls. And God Bless the parents for all they went thru. It is so totally amazing that they got thru it all and are just happy fun loving children.

  30. Amazing story and an amazing family. You are truly a blessed family, may God bless you.

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