SYDNEY, Australia, February 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Aussie battler couple Renee Young and Simon Howie, of Tregear, are pregnant with a type of conjoined twins so rare that only 35 cases have ever been recorded, of which none are alive today. Despite the advice of doctors, they are determined to see the pregnancy through and enjoy the arrival of the twin girls.
As told to A Current Affair, it was at a routine ultrasound at 15 weeks and two days that Renee's sonographer spotted something unusual and sent her back to her local doctor. It was only then that her doctor broke the news. Renee and Simon were told that they were expecting conjoined twins. Renee described the experience as “difficult” and “hard to take in.”
It left the couple shocked and confused, and not entirely sure how to take the news. It was unusually quiet on the way home. When they started to talk about it, the conversation was about “where we were going from that stage” and they both agreed to continue the pregnancy. As Renee continued to explain, “everything happens for a reason, so what happens … happens.”
After more tests at Bankstown hospital in Sydney, the head of obstetrics confirmed the diagnosis.
The advanced stage of Renee's pregnancy was also a stated factor in deciding to continue. She said that even if it was only at the ten weeks stage she wouldn't terminate. “I've still got to give birth whether it's now, ten weeks, or full term. To me it doesn't make a difference.”
The couple sees this pregnancy as the same as having an unborn baby with autism or Down Syndrome, making no sense to abort babies that are healthy and growing well in the womb.
Doctors had still advised the couple to abort because the babies would “be looked upon by the public as a freak.” Issues with schooling, growing up and having friends were also cited.
Renee also has debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, and the couple is living in social housing with their seven children, surviving on disability and carer's pensions.
Simon and Renee aren't daunted by this. With seven children already, they have their support team in place. Teenage daughters Jess (oldest), Patsyanne and Angel are on side, and wouldn’t abort the babies either, regardless of how big the challenge will be.
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According to Patsyanne, “No matter what … it may have a deformity, but (it's) still a baby. So … no way.” “It's still a human,” she added. Younger sister Angel said she had thought about a termination in the beginning, but the more she thought about it she decided, “Maybe it's got something wrong with it, but [it's] still my sister.”
Simon and Renee are aware of the job ahead and are taking it one day at a time. They're hoping that nothing major will go wrong with the conjoined twins, but they're prepared to re-enter the workforce if that is what it takes in order to provide. They already expect ridicule from some members of the public.
The last diprosopus (craniofacial duplication) conjoined twins were born in India in 2008, lasting two months. This will likely be the first set for Australia. This type of conjoined twin has one body and one set of organs, but the head is divided into two faces. Scans have shown that Simon and Renee's conjoined twins each have their own brain, both of which are connected to the one brain stem.
Simon and Renee are positive about how the pregnancy is proceeding. Renee says, “While it's in my belly it's healthy. So … the heartbeat is beautiful. The brain activity is good in both brains. We can't sort of come to grips with not having it.”
“We can't be fully prepared, but we want its existence to be out there. It's going to be here and I want people to know about it. It does happen. It may be very rare, but it does happen,” she said.
Simon has been spending many late nights researching the condition on the internet to learn as much as he can. Not just learning more about diprosopus, but to be reassured of the path that they plan to take. Breathing difficulties and heart problems are some of the issues to be dealt with.
And for the doctors that think they should abort the babies now rather than wait for them to succumb? Renee says that even if she only gets two days with the babies, at least she gets some time with them. Simon agrees, pointing out that the rest of the family would also get to spend that time with their newest sisters.
Their babies are due in July, and the specialist has stated that he can't think of any reason why the babies won't survive the birth. They have also been advised that there is no reason to have a C-section. A natural delivery is planned.