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

May 12, 2014

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."

Explore further: Conjoined twin girls separated in China

Related Stories

Conjoined twin girls separated in China

August 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.

US surgery planned for conjoined twins from Philippines

October 31, 2011
Conjoined two-year-old girls born in the Philippines are to undergo surgery on Tuesday to separate them at the chest and abdomen, said the California hospital where the operation will take place.

China hospital separates conjoined twins

September 6, 2011
A Chinese hospital said Tuesday it had successfully separated four-month-old conjoined twin girls in a "challenging" six-hour operation.

No surgery for now on two-headed baby in Brazil: doctors

December 22, 2011
Doctors in Brazil said Thursday they have decided for now not to attempt to surgically separate a set of conjoined twins who have two heads but share one body and various vital organs.

British surgeons separate conjoined Sudanese twins

September 18, 2011
Surgeons at a British hospital have successfully separated one-year-old conjoined twins from Sudan, the charity which funded the procedure said Sunday.

Separated Philippine twins doing well after US op

November 3, 2011
A pair of 2-year-old formerly conjoined twin girls from the Philippines are recovering well after an operation to separate them in California, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

Fidget spinners are the latest toy craze, but the medical benefits are unclear

June 21, 2017
Last week, German customs agents in Frankfurt Airport seized 35 metric tons of an imported plastic device, destroying the shipment for public safety purposes before it could infiltrate the country's marketplaces.

0 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.