One body, two faces: rare twins born in Sydney (Update)

An Australian couple have welcomed the birth of conjoined twins who have separate brains and identical faces but share a body, describing their girls as "little Aussie fighters", a report said Monday.

Sydney couple Renee Young and Simon Howie learned at a 19-week ultrasound that their babies would be born with a rare condition called diprosopus, Woman's Day magazine reported.

"Even though there is only one body, we call them our twins," Howie told the magazine.

"To us, they are our girls and we love them."

Young gave birth last Thursday by emergency caesarean, some six weeks early.

Named Hope and Faith, the girls share one unusually-shaped skull with duplicated facial features and separate brains joined at the stem. They have one set of limbs and organs.

They are in intensive care at the Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney's west where they have impressed doctors with their progress.

"They are breathing perfectly on their own and feeding," Howie said, adding that they had their first bath on Sunday night.

"They are little Aussie fighters."

Woman's Day said the girls were conjoined in an extremely rare way and the implications of their condition was not fully clear, but they were being monitored closely in hospital.

"We have no idea how long they will be in hospital," said Howie, who has seven other children in his family with Young.

"We just want to bring them home, happy and healthy to make our family a little bit bigger and a bit more chaotic."

Woman's Day said there had only been 35 cases in which babies with diprosopus—meaning two faces—were born joined in a similar way as the girls. None have survived.

"Their face had actually duplicated.... they actually have their own brain; two arms, two legs, one body and the one heart beat," Howie told the Nine television network.

The couple said they could not face terminating the pregnancy, despite fears about the sisters' survival.

"The heart beat was beautiful," Young said in an interview with Nine before the birth. "If I only get two days with the baby, I only get two days with the baby. At least I get some time with it.

"I want people to know about it. It does happen. It might be very rare, but it does happen," she added.

Sitting in the intensive care ward with her newborns, Young said that doctors had told her they didn't know what the future held for her girls.

"We are still in unknown territory," she said.

"I'm proud as punch," Howie said. "Just to see them come this far when all the odds were against us to be honest."

Related Stories

Conjoined twin girls separated in China

date Aug 27, 2013

Conjoined twin baby girls have been released from a hospital in China almost three weeks after they were separated in a marathon operation, state media reported Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Are our schools damaging children's eyes?

date Mar 24, 2015

Shockingly, research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of students leaving secondary school with short-sightedness, or myopia, and a new study published in the Journal Perspectives in Public Health, published by SAG ...

Vitamin D vital for gene expression in developing brains

date Mar 24, 2015

Vitamin D deficiency in mothers leading up to and during pregnancy has fundamental consequences for their offspring's brain development, researchers from University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids ...

Chef-enhanced school meals increase healthy food consumption

date Mar 23, 2015

Schools collaborating with a professionally trained chef to improve the taste of healthy meals significantly increased students' fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.