What happened to conjoined twins who defied odds to lead extraordinary lives

GIVEN the huge life or death risk and low survival rates, the decision to operate on conjoined twins is an agonising one.

Most recently, one-year-old twin girls joined at the back of their heads have finally been able to see each other for the first time, after a successful 12-hour operation to separate them.

Conjoined twins are extremely rare – the condition is thought to affect one in every 200,000 births – so it's only the 20th time such an op has been carried out.

Here, we take a look at some of the other well-known conjoined sibling cases and find out what they did next…

'We always knew we were different'

When 19-year-old sisters Sanchia and Eman Mowatt were just three months old, they endured a painstaking 16-hour procedure at Birmingham Children's Hospital to separate them.

They were joined together at the spine, and with the survival rate for separated conjoined twins only between five and 25 per cent, it was an agonising wait to see if the pioneering procedure would work.

Miraculously, the op to separate their spine and organs was a complete success, and has meant the pair have gone on to live normal lives, even defying the odds to learn to walk.

The pair have endured continuing hospital treatment, but have been able to pursue different interests.

Eman says: "We knew at a young age we were different – hospital appointments, operations, and we couldn't do everything our friends were doing."

'She made me who I am today'

With the odds stacked against them, there's sadly heartache for a lot of conjoined twins and their families.

TikTok star Gabby Garcia, now 22, was separated from her twin Michaela when the pair were eight months old, but sadly Michaela passed away from an infection 13 years later.

Paying tribute to her beloved sister and sharing her experiences to her 223k TikTok followers, in one post Gabby wrote: "Because of how I was born, I got to know what it's like growing up with the best friend in the whole world…she made me who I am today."

The pair shared a pair of legs, kidneys a bladder and intestines, and Gabby now tells their story on social media to raise awareness about their condition.

Despite difficulties and missing her sibling every day, Gabby refuses to focus on any negativity. She says she believes the saying: "It'll all be OK in the end, and if it's not OK, then it's not the end."

'We run and do sports'

Not all conjoined twins who've gone on to live happy, healthy lives have been separated, and there are thought to be 12 adult pairs of conjoined twins around the world.

Despite their different personalities and fashion sense, Abby and Brittany Hensel, now 31, share one set of arms and legs, and an extremely strong bond.

The sisters starred in their own reality series, and have worked together from birth to successfully navigate everything from driving, swimming, to now working as part-time fifth grade teachers.

According to The Mirror, Abby said: "We never wish we were separated because we would never be able to do all the things that we do now, like play softball, run and do sports."

Too risky to separate

The life expectancy for conjoined twins at birth can be low, but despite being given just days to live, Carmen and Lupita Andrade have celebrated their 18th birthday.

Born in Mexico in 2002, they are conjoined from the chest to the pelvis, and have two arms and one leg each, with Carmen controlling the right and Lupita controlling the left.

The sisters, who starred in recent documentary Two Sisters, One Body, each have their own hearts, lungs and stomachs.

However they share a liver, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system which meant it was too risky to separate them.

Speaking to a local paper, Carmen said: “Our friends literally tell us, 'You guys are so completely different', and I’m like, 'Well, yeah. We’re two different people'."

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