Phil and Alyson Irwin, already parents of daughter Kennedy, were overjoyed to welcome their twin babies into the world and make their family complete, despite the fears of the uncertainty of how things would turn for the bundles of joy who were conjoined and shared a liver.
Sarabeth and Amelia were born on June 11, 2019. Despite being conjoined, the fact that they had separate digestive tracts and separate pairs of arms and legs gave doctors hopes that the sisters could be separated in the months to come.
“They [the doctors] were able to tell that the hearts were very, very close, but they were separate. That was the deciding factor for a lot of people. That they had separate hearts, it was a possibility,” the mother said.
The separation surgery was initially scheduled for February 2020, but the girls fell ill at the time and it was postponed for later. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors couldn’t perform the so much-expected operation until August 2020. Speaking of the waiting period, dad Phil said, “We had a lot of really good family time together. We got to watch the girls grow and get so strong and so healthy that it made me feel really, really good leading up to the second scheduling of their surgery.”
The parents couldn’t wait to hold their girls separately and see them sleep in separate beds.
The doctors at the Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital made the Irwin’s family wish come true. A team of more than two dozen doctors, nurses and other specialists who spent months preparing for the complex procedure successfully separated the one-year-old sisters.
“For everyone in the room, it was a very emotional and extraordinary moment when the last incision was made to separate these girls from one to two,” George Mychaliska, M.D., pediatric and fetal surgeon at Mott told Michigan Health.
“This was a monumental team effort that involved virtually every clinical department here and a group that was incredibly committed to collaborating in the most innovative way.”
Dr. Marcie Treadwell, director of Michigan Medicine’s Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center explained that just 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 250,000 pregnancies involve conjoined twins which makes these pregnancies rare. But what is ever rarer is the survival delivery and the survival rate. Thankfully, sweet Sarabeth and Amelia beat the odds and are now happy and healthy.
The parents say that those who don’t know the girls’ story have a hard time believing that they were once conjoined.
After the successful operation, Sarabeth and Amelia are thriving and let their characters, which are totally different from one another, shine.
“Amelia is a little bit of a princess or a diva,” Phil said. “She wears all of her emotions right on her sleeve. There’s no hiding how Amelia feels… Now that they’re separate, it’s so funny to see Sarabeth’s quirky personality…just physically, emotionally and mentally, how goofy that little girl really is.”
The family can’t be happier. Speaking to Detroit Free Press, Phil said, “This has been a giant experiment in the power of positive and the power of prayer. You know? … Positive news, people need that. People live on that.”
For the whole story of these cute baby girls and their life journey check the video below.