An Australian couple is fighting to save their unborn child, who has two faces and two brains, after doctors told them they should consider having an abortion.
Renee Young and Simon Howie of Sydney said that a routine ultrasound found problems with their baby’s development and that the twins they were expecting were actually one baby with a rare medical condition. The child has a condition known as diprosopus, or craniofacial duplication, a condition whereby parts or all of the face are duplicated on the head. It is so rare, according to a report on the couple and their baby, that just 35 cases have been recorded in humans and no one is alive today who has it.
Three-dimensional scans show the child has two legs, two arms and one body and all its vital organs, including a strong beating heart.
But above the neck, the child has two faces on one skull, an exact duplication of eyes, nose and mouth, and two brains connected with one brain stem.
“Shocked, confused, a little bit of everything … I wasn’t sure how to take in what he was explaining to me,” Mr Howie told A Current Affair.
Young, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, was 15 weeks and two days into her pregnancy when doctors broke the news and too far along to abort the child – not that the couple considered it an option.
“It’d be the same as being a child with autism or down syndrome … I don’t believe in terminating the baby if it’s healthy and growing fine, and everything is going to plan,” Mr Howie said.
“Renee was the same.”
But Mr Howie said doctors disagreed, urging the parents of seven to terminate their unborn child “because it would be looked upon as a freak”.
“We’ve got a really big family, we don’t really involve ourselves in the community except for schools where the children are. We have a good family base … it gives us a lot of support,” Mr Howie said.
“If I only get two days with the baby, I only get two days with the baby. At least I have some time with it,” Ms Young, now 19 weeks pregnant, said.
“That’s just the time we actually get to spend with the baby and its brothers and sisters get to meet their little brother or sister.”