Formerly Conjoined Twins Turn 10, Live 50 Miles Apart… and a World Away from Their ParentsCarolyn Castiglia
Nine years ago, conjoined twins Maria de Jesus Quiej Alvarez and Maria Teresa Alvarez were separated after being born with fused heads. Originally from Guatemala, the girls underwent 23-hours of surgery at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital. Today, they’re celebrating 10 years of life, a life that hasn’t been easy for either twin, but which has been especially difficult for Maria Teresa, who cannot walk or speak.
According to People, “The girls have spent the past eight years in and out of the hospital and today maintain a rigorous regimen of physical and occupational therapy, including several months a year at an ambulatory care center in Michigan” for Maria de Jesus, who is now called Josie. Because the girls’ parents are unable to afford the cost of their daughters’ medical care, the twins live in the US and “are under the daily care of guardians Jenny Hull, 40, who has custody of Josie, and Florie and Werner Chahas, a Guatemalan couple with four children of their own, who watch over Teresa.” The girls’ foster families pay to have the girls’ parents, Wenseslao and Lety Alvarez, fly to Los Angeles twice a year. People says, “The girls live 50 miles apart but see each other about four times a week, counting therapy appointments. On Sundays, they swim, play at the park, dress up dolls and watch TV” together.
According to Hull, “when the girls lie down next to each other, they often resume the position they held in their mother’s womb and their first year of life. Teresa just lights up when they do that.” Within the next year, the twins are expected to undergo surgery “to have protective plates inserted in their skulls.” What a beautiful story of sacrifice and dedication on the part of all of the parents involved. These young girls have shown such perseverance, strength and joy in the face of adversity. In her quotes about her life, Josie embodies such grace and poise, even though parts of her and her sister’s story are incredibly sad. Truly touching!
For the full story, visit People.