These Conjoined Twins Live an Incredible Life, Proving the Skeptics Wrong

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 28, 2016   |   11:09AM   |   Washington, DC

Ten years ago, doctors thought conjoined twins Isabella and Abbigail Carlsen would not survive.

CBS News reports the North Dakota twins spent the first six months of their lives in the hospital while their parents clung to a hope that they would survive. The girls’ bodies were conjoined from the chest to the stomach, and some of their organs were twisted together, according to the report.

Ten years later, the girls are thriving – and apart.

The Star Tribune recently published a photo profile of the girls, now active 11-year-olds who love gymnastics and animals. The photos showed the twins Christmas shopping and joking around with their parents at a Bismark mall. Another featured them snuggling with cats at their local human society as they dropped off donations for the animals. Others showed them making faces and playing with friends at school in typical kid fashion.

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The girls appear to be leading full, relatively normal lives now, but they almost did not survive the earliest stages of life. When the girls were babies, doctors thought their complications were so severe that they might not live. Reports do not indicate whether their problems were detected prenatally, but if they had been, abortion could have been suggested as an option to their parents.

The twins survived birth 11 years ago and clung onto life in the hospital for six months. Meanwhile, a team of 17 surgeons at the Mayo Clinic practiced and prepared for a complex surgery to separate them and hopefully save their lives, CBS reports.

When they were six months old, the girls underwent a 12-hour surgery at the Mayo Clinic. Two weeks later, they finally were well enough to go home, according to the report.

Ten years after their surgery, the girls are doing well – physically, academically and socially. Their parents said they take Abbigal and Isabella to the Mayo Clinic every couple of years for check ups, but the girls are doing well.

“Words can’t express how thankful I am for what they did for our girls,” their mother, Amy Carlsen, said.