With a minuscule chance both of their conjoined twin boys would survive separation surgery, a Pennsylvania couple has made the decision to keep their babies conjoined.
“The best thing is to keep them together,” their mother, Michelle Van Horne, told ABC News. “They were born together they can stay together. It would hurt to lose one and have the other.”
Andrew and Garette Stancombe were born two weeks ago in Indiana, Pa., joined from the breastbone to the waist. Doctors said it was too medically risky to separate them, giving them between a 5 and 25 percent chance of survival. They share a heart and a liver and, their parents said, an unbreakable bond.
“We’re grateful they have been able to survive this long and they’re both going strong,” said the boy’s father, Kody Stancombe.
Van Horne added, “Losing them isn’t an option.”
Today, the Stancombe twins are heading home, where they will join their older brother, 23-month-old Ryan Stancombe.
Last week, another set of conjoined twins, 9-month-old Owen and Emmitt Ezell, also left the hospital and will eventually make it home after a few months in a rehab facility. The Ezell twins shared a liver and intestines and were successfully separated last year. While their surgeon, Dr. Tom Renard of Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, said their surgery was “tricky”, they are expected to thrive from here on out.
Van Horne said her favorite thing about her babies is “just spending time with them.” Her biggest fear is losing them.
“I feel like I am living on pins and needles,” she said.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, conjoined twins occur once for every 50,000 to 60,000 births and approximately 75 percent of conjoined twins are joined at the chest.