In 2006, two very special girls were welcomed to the world by overjoyed parents. Isabelle and Abby spent their first six months of life together in hospitals. Of course, they were never really far apart – and not only because they shared a bond as twins.
When dad Jesse and mom Amy Carlsen welcomed their daughters to the world, they knew they were special. The twins were conjoined from their chest down to their stomachs. Their condition was, obviously, extremely rare, and they immediately made medical history in Minnesota, where doctors tried to find a way of separating them safely. Their situation received plenty of media attention at the time, and their parents revealed in several interviews just how difficult it was for them.
Drastically complicating matters, Isabella’s heart was embedded deeply in Abby’s breast, and the girls also shared several other organs. The parents had a tough decision to make: Should they allow doctors to attempt a surgical procedure to separate the two?
After more than half a year of deliberation, Jesse and Amy – in consultation with their doctors – decided they would go ahead with the surgery.
It would be performed at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, with a 12 hour operation required involving 17 surgeons.
Fortunately, despite the surgery being fraught with risk, all went well. The wait was an extremely long and nervous one for the family, but the twin girls could eventually go home separated after just two short weeks of recovery.
The doctors used the word miracle to describe it.
Today, it’s 12 years since the much-discussed procedure and Abby and Isabelle have no memories of being born attached. They are, of course, two individuals, although it’s clear for all to see that they’re inseparable as twins.
Ten years following the surgery, the pair gave a TV interview.
They’d started fourth grade and lived with their happy family in Mandan, North Dakota. They might share a unique connection, but they usually dress in different styles and have a range of different tastes. As Abby says, they are two individuals who like different things.
“Every night we look into the mirror in the room and say to each other: How can people mix us up?” Abby says.
It’s great to see these miracle twins looking and feeling so good, a decade later. It’s not just that the pair survived an obviously difficult operation, but the fact that they don’t let the effects of their separation take any toll on their lives. Both are happy, both are excelling at school.
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