On February 26, 2002, twins Kendra and Maliyah Herrin were born sharing a large intestine, bladder, liver, and single kidney. Their parents, Erin and Jake, faced an agonizing decision: to either separate the girls or keep them conjoined. Both options put their lives at risk.
“One doctor told us he thought everything from the twins’ chest, down was mush, and they didn’t have the organs they needed to survive on their own outside of my womb,” Erin explained on Gulf News.
“Another doctor told us to simply abort the twins because it was all too complicated. But I’d seen our daughters’ faces close up, at an MRI scan, and fallen in love with them. I was determined to do whatever it took to bring them into the world safely, even if it meant risking my own life.”
Erin and Jake ultimately decided to have the twins separated when they were 4 years old, feeling it would give them their best chance at a normal life. It was a truly groundbreaking surgery and one that poses major health risks.
Since Maliyah and Kendra were the first set of twins sharing a kidney to be separated, the pending surgery became national news. Understandably, Erin was highly emotional in front of the cameras, as Maliyah and Kendra underwent this groundbreaking procedure.
But despite the low survival rate, Kendra and Maliyah exceeded all expectations. Thanks to an incredible team of six surgeons, the twins were successfully separated after 26 hours. Kendra retained their shared kidney, while Maliyah underwent dialysis until she was transplanted with a kidney donated by her mom.
After four years of living as one, Kendra and Maliyah were tasked with learning how to live as separate individuals.
“The girls were happy to be independent at last, but sometimes I’d find them playing and walking around the house on crutches, sometimes holding on to one another like they were still conjoined,” Erin said.
Watch the video below to see what the twins’ lives were like by the time they were 11 years old. It’s nothing short of incredible…
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