15 Year Old Gives Birth to Conjoined Twins

One in 2.5 million births yield conjoined twins.

A 15 year-old girl has given birth to conjoined twins at Baragwanath Hospital in South Africa. The babies are conjoined at the chest and abdomen and are currently in the neonatal intensive-care unit.

Conjoined twins are remarkably rare — only one in every 2.5 million births results in them. And only 5 or so sets of such twins are living in the entire world at any given point in time. Most have insurmountable medical problems and die within 24 hours of birth. But there have also been a number of extraordinary cases of survival.

Take Danielle and Danika Lowton, for example. These conjoined twins were born in India in 2006 and were fused at the head. They were successfully separated after a 16-hour surgery.

Then there’s the remarkable story of the conjoined twins in Minnesota, Abigail and Brittany Hensel, who were born in 1990. These sisters, each with her own head and neck, share a body which, aside from a chest that is wider than usual, appears perfectly normal in that it has two arms and two legs. Each twin manages one side of her body. Though they can do things like concurrently write independently of one another, much of what they do requires a team effort, like walking, swimming or driving.

Though impossible in the case of the Hensel twins, separation is the ultimate goal for most conjoined twins. Thankfully, these children are no longer seen as the oddity that they once were. Instead, they’re seen for what they truly are — kids with serious health challenges. That awareness, along with the advance in medical technology, has given something invaluable to each set of conjoined twins — a better chance of survival.

Baragwanath Hospital will be holding a press conference tomorrow to announce the hospital’s plans with regard to the most recent set of conjoined twins. Whatever that plan is, I hope it succeeds.

Photo: FlickrKapungo


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