'They already have separate personalities': Australian mother of 'baby with two faces' says her twin girls Faith and Hope wake and cry at different times
- Renee Young welcomed daughters Faith and Hope in Sydney on May 8
- Renee says daughters already showing separate personalities
- Father Simon Howie says the girls are reaching daily milestones
- Faith and Hope were born with the rare condition called diprosopus
- They share same body and organs but have separate brains and two faces
By EMILY CRANE
PUBLISHED: 20:14 EST, 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 01:48 EST, 20 May 2014
The mother of conjoined twins born with one body and two heads has described how her 11-day old daughters are already showing 'very separate' personalities.
'You have to see it to believe it,' Renee Young told Woman's Day, 'sometimes Faith will cry and wake Hope up, who then looks sideways as if to say, "Thanks for that".
'We are blessed we've got this far. I just find them adorable.'
The girls' father, Simon Howie, said he was amazed at the progress the girls have made in hospital since their birth on May 8.
'Each time I come means they've reached another milestone and pulled through another day,' he said.
The babies, Faith and Hope, were christened at Westmead Children's Hospital after their miraculous birth on May 8.
'I think they're beautiful and Simon thinks they're beautiful, so really, that's all that matters,' Ms Young told A Current Affair.
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Two girls in one body: Renee Young with her daughters Faith and Hope who were born in a Sydney hospital on May 8
Faith and Hope were born with a rare condition called diprosopus, which means they share the same body and organs but have separate brains and two faces
Proud mother: Faith and Hope are now in a stable condition and breathing without support, after initial doubts
They continue to defy medical odds and Ms Young and Mr Howie have maintained a bedside vigil for their daughters who were born with identical faces and two brains.
Despite doctors initially telling the couple to terminate the pregnancy, they have been told the girls have a strong chance if they survive the next five weeks.
The girls were born with a rare condition called diprosopus, which means they share the same body and vital organs but have their own faces and brains which are connected by only one brain stem.
'Even though there is only one body, we call them our twins. To us, they are our girls and we love them,' Mr Howie told Woman's Day.
'We have no idea how long they will be in hospital. We just want to bring them home, happy and healthy to make our family a little bit bigger and a bit more chaotic.'
Hope and Faith's have their own brains which are connected by only one brain stem
'I think they're beautiful and Simon thinks they're beautiful so really that's all that matters,' their mother said.
As the parents of seven other children, Renee and her husband Simon Howie never considered terminating while the girls grew healthy
The condition is so rare that only 35 cases have ever been recorded and none have survived.
Due to the complex nature of Faith and Hope's condition, doctors are unsure about what to expect and they are being forced to make their prognoses day by day.
Mr Howie confirmed that specialists were called in to decipher a range of problems and assess the twins in great depth, from the functioning of their lungs and blood vessels to decisions about how best to proceed with feeding.
But despite all the forewarned medial problems likely to come their way, Ms Young and Mr Howie are happy their girls are alive and well.
'I think they're beautiful and Simon thinks they're beautiful so really that's all that matters,' Ms Young told A Current Affair.
Mr Howie said: 'I sort of don't believe in terminating the baby if it's healthy and growing fine and everything is going to plan'
Their mother Renee gave birth to the girls via an emergency caesarean
Their condition is so rare that only 35 cases have ever been recorded and none have survived
From as early as 28 weeks into Ms Young’s pregnancy, specialists were concerned about grave developmental issues.
One of the biggest predicted survival risks from their doctor Greg Kesby was that the babies would be unable to breathe on their own.
The couple, who are parents to seven other children, were also told early on in the pregnancy not to keep the child ‘because it would be looked upon by the public as a freak’.
They defied the doctors because Ms Young had never terminated a pregnancy and because they had a family 'that gives us a lot of support'.
At first, things looked to be taking a turn for the worst as Ms Young unexpectedly went into labour at only 32 weeks on May 8, and was forced to have an emergency caesarean.
The couple refused to terminate their unborn twins despite being warned by doctors of the medical and social problems the girls were likely to suffer
Channel 9 were given the honour of choosing the middle names of the newborns, picking Daisy for Faith and Alice for Hope
The twin girls were not breathing in the first few moments after their birth, leaving their parents in a state of great anxiety
The girls have defied all odds and are currently in a stable condition and breathing without any assistance.
Although the couple were aware from the early stages of pregnancy that their children would have great developmental problems, they said that while they continued to grow healthily, they couldn’t come to terms with letting their unborn twins go.
'We sort of looked at it as; it'd be the same as being a child with autism or Down syndrome. I sort of don't believe in terminating the baby if it's healthy and growing fine and everything is going to plan,' Mr Howie said.
The proud parents of the small survivors have braced themselves for a difficult path ahead and refuse to say goodbye prematurely.
'I would say, if I only get two days with the baby, I only get two days with the baby - at least I have some time with it,' Ms Young said.
The conjoined twins share all their major organs apart from their brains
It was at 19 weeks into her pregnancy that Ms Young became aware that her unborn babies were conjoined
DIPROSOPUS CONDITION MEDICAL FACTS
- The rare condition diprosopus is also known as craniofacial duplication.
- Diprosopus refers to a baby born with a single torso, normal limbs and facial features, which are duplicated to a degree.
- In mild instances the baby may have a duplicated nose and the eyes may be spaced far apart. But in extreme cases the entire face can be replicated, hence the name diprosopus - Greek for two-faced.
- Most babies born with diprosopus are stillborn, and there are fewer than 50 cases documented since 1864.
- Where a baby is born with two complete identical faces, the condition is considered a rare variant of conjoined twinning.
- But while conjoined twinning is the result of an incomplete separation of two embryos, diprosopus is caused by abnormal activity of the protein Sonic Hedgehog (SHH).
- The protein is responsible for signalling craniofacial patterning during embroyonic development, and among other things governs the width of facial features.
- Where the protein is found in excess, a baby will have wider facial features, and in extreme cases it can cause the duplication of those features.
- Diprosopus can be deteched via ultrasound in pregnancy, or via CT scanning.
- One of the first indications of the condition is the detection of abnormally high amount of amniotic fluid present within the amniotoc sac.
- There is currently no treatment to cure the condition and because of its rarity few treatment options or corrective surgery techniques exist.
Source: The Embryo Project Encyclopedia
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2631013/The-baby-two-faces-Conjoined-twin-girls-share-body-two-brains-christened-Sydney-hospital-defy-medical-odds.html#ixzz32F8Gxu2y
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