Conjoined Twins and Their Parents Glad They Refused Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 27, 2011   |   7:08PM   |   Philadelphia, PA

Most parents and most people could not imagine life as a conjoined twin or giving birth to twins who are attached at the head. But brothers Stefan and Tyler Delp, who are 19, are glad they are alive.

In a heartwarming new Philadelphia Inquirer profile story, they and their parents talk about how they are glad a suggestion from doctors to consider abortion was refused.

From the story:

Brothers Stefan and Tyler Delp have spent every second of their lives together. They go to the same schools, play the violin in tandem, and recently sang a duet, “Put Your Arms Around Someone,” at their school’s spring hop. But the boys have never seen each other’s faces except for some sleight of hand with mirrors or computers.

The boys, born at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital 19 years ago, are a rare set of identical twins, joined at the head so one faces forward while the other is turned backward. When they walk down the hall at the public high school where they take morning classes, one moves ahead; the other steps in reverse.

“The best thing about having a brother with whom I’m conjoined is that I always have a best friend to talk to,” Tyler says.

“Tyler is my best friend,” echoes Stefan. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Tim Delp and Nancy Hoffman-Delp, who live in South Jersey, were 26, married four years, and thrilled at the prospect of becoming parents. At 14 weeks into an uneventful pregnancy, they eagerly kept an appointment for a routine ultrasound.

“I could tell right away something was wrong,” Tim Delp said. “No one said anything, but the look on the tech’s face was one of shock and bewilderment.” Two days later, Hoffman-Delp answered an urgent call from her doctor’s office. She and her husband were to come in immediately. It was an anxious several hours until the doctor delivered the stunning news: “You are having conjoined twins.”

The next day they met George Davis, a perinatologist who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Every couple of years, he encounters a case like this one. “Dr. Davis, this kind, gentle man, told us that he thought our babies shared facial features – maybe their cheekbones,” Hoffman-Delp said. “He said the fatality rate was high – in the neighborhood of 95 percent – and it might be in our best interest to think about terminating the pregnancy.”

The prospective parents struggled through the next three weeks, putting their marriage to the test. “I was extremely nervous,” Delp said, “and our lives were a whirlwind as we tried to figure it out. We asked: ‘Why me? Why us? What did we do?’ I couldn’t get my arms around the whole concept and I thought maybe we shouldn’t have these children.” For his wife, there was never any doubt. “I couldn’t kill a fly,” she said, “let alone think about aborting a child. If my babies were going to die, it was going to be in my arms.”