Emmett and Owen Ezell were born in August in Dallas, Texas but they were very much unlike most sets of twins. They were are identical twins joined in utero — a rare phenomenon that happens in as many as 1 in 200,000 births.
About half of such twins are stillborn, but Owen and Emmett survived not only the birthing process — their mother rejected abortion.
“I’m just so happy that they’re here and they’re alive and thriving. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Jenni Ezell said after the surgery during a news conference at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, where she was joined by husband Dave and a doctor.
Owen and Emmett Ezell were separated at the hospital after being born joined from just below the breast bone to just below the belly button on July 15. The babies shared a liver and intestines and had an about 3 inch by 5 inch area on their lower stomach that wasn’t covered by skin or muscles.
Now, the little tots are doing well eight months after the surgery:
They’ve lived in the neonatal intensive care ever since and have each had multiple surgeries and setbacks. Through it all, the boys’ parents never lost faith.
“Back when the struggles were the hardest and the struggles were the biggest, basically the way we would keep pressing on without losing it was to talk about having all four boys together,” said the boys’ father Dave Ezell. “When this is over, we’re going to have 4 boys, we’re going to be a family.”
In the past the hospital had said the boys had to pass three major hurdles to go home — eating and breathing on their own and fully healing from their surgical wounds.
The hospital said Monday the twins are breathing on their own through trachea breathing tubes and are no longer being fed through an IV, but they continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens.
While at rehab, the boys’ parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.
“It’s been a dream. We’ve made it and it’s been really hard. I feel like that first 9 months, it’s all been emotional, it has been very difficult emotionally,” said Jenni Ezell. “But from here out it’s going to be very difficult physically. We are going to be exhausted taking care of these boys but it’s going to be totally worth it!”
Jenni and Dave Ezell call the twins their “little miracles” and say each step has been part of a greater plan.
“They wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for God. It’s the truth,” said Jenni Ezell.
The couple initially made a decision to have an abortion but went back on that after unexpected good news.
The Ezells, both 31, discovered the twins they were expecting were conjoined on March 1, when she was 17 weeks pregnant. The couple, who now live in Dallas but lived in Oklahoma at the time, said their doctor there gave them little hope the babies would survive.
“We didn’t think they had a chance, that they weren’t going to make it at all,” she said. “So we decided to abort and it was the hardest decision that a mother has to make.”
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The Dallas clinic where they went for the abortion had concerns that her scar from previous cesarean sections might tear and sent her to Medical City for a consultation about the scar tissue. During that visit, a doctor unexpectedly told the parents that there was hope for their unborn boys, Jenni Ezell said.
“I could not contain my joy,” said Ezell, who added that since they weren’t even looking for a second opinion, she felt that through the whole process God was leading them to “exactly where we needed to be.”
The boys weighed a combined 11 pounds, 15 ounces at birth. Hospital officials say the twins had grown to more than 16 pounds when the surgery was done.
This story underscores the importance of getting a second opinion when doctors suggest abortion.