PARENTS of conjoined twins reveal their fears over whether they should make the decision to have a risky separation surgery.
Nick and Chelsea Torres, from Idaho, US feature in a new ITV documentary along with their three-year-old twins Callie and Carter, who are fused from the chest down – and two legs between them.
The first episode of ITV’s two-part Extraordinary Twins tonight explores the world of conjoined twins and how families cope with raising their babies.
Conjoined twins occur once out of every 200,000 live births – and should ideally be separated before the age of two until four years old.
The couple have only a few months left to make the decision about the operation and meet with other families who faced similar situations.
The surgery will mean that Callie and Carter will have to share out vital organs, as well as having one leg each.
However, the surgery also poses the risk of losing one or both girls.
Despite being conjoined, the twins are both happy and healthy, while their parents are concerned about the future.
It’s not just the immediate risk of surgery that worries Nick and Chelsea, it’s also how their daughters will get jobs, or have relationships.
However, Chelsea revealed: “One of them dying or both of them dying is my biggest fear.”
“You get excited if you're pregnant. You go to the doctor's appointment and they say you have two babies that are conjoined.
“I was prepared to bury my children the day that they were born. And then they don't die.”
To help the parents make their decision regarding the surgery, they met with other families with conjoined twins.
It is thought that there are only 12 sets of adult joined twins living around the world.
One of these set is Carmen and Lupita, 20, who couldn’t be separated.
The two share the positives and negatives with Nick and Chelsea about their life.
The parents discover that Carmen and Lupita are studying a vet college and that Carmen can drive – which is comforting, but that the girls have ongoing health issues.
Carmen admitted: “'We've had adults literally ask us, "Oh my god – are you guys aliens? Are you sick in the head or something? I don't know what's wrong with you but okay." Yeah, we're different.
“We're not like one person with two heads.”
The Torres family then travel to California to meet parents Art and Aida who faced the same dilemma, but eventually opted for the separation surgery despite the risks in a big to give their twins – now six-years-old – more independence.
She revealed that it was very emotional to see her twins are two little girls when they went into the surgery as one.
All I knew is that I wanted to give both of them that chance to have an individual life.”
Meanwhile, twins Fatma and Omer, from Turkey, have 17-month-old times – Yigit and Derman.
The twins are joined at the head, which is known as craniopagus twins.
The charity Gemini Untwined, which was set up by the twin’s surgeons, helped pay for the million-pound treat and the twins were brough to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Professor David Dunaway, a Craniofacial surgeon, and Paediatric Neurosurgeon Mr Owase Jeelani and their time need four complex operations to complete the separation, which will take place over a period of two months.
Mr Jeelani said: “I think it must be a near impossible decision for a parent, whether to undergo surgery with the risk of losing one or both children or having one or both children damaged because of the surgical process.”
ITV's Extraordinary Twins airs tonight at 9pm
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