Conjoined Twins: Caring and Separation
Finding out that you are pregnant with twins can be a joyful and a wonderful experience. But finding out that you may be expecting conjoined twins can be very frightening. And caring for them can be even more challenging.
If you are pregnant and worried about having conjoined twins, you can get an ultrasound after week 20 of your pregnancy. The ultrasound will detect if there is any physical attachment between twins and use this information in order to plan for labor and delivery. Your health care provider will also monitor you and your twins regularly to ensure that your pregnancy is going safe and smoothly. So, trust your doctor and don’t get worried unnecessarily.
Most often, conjoined twins do not survive for longer than 24 hours. But some of those who do survive have very serious physical challenges. Conjoined twins may share certain body parts and organs and may not be able to move freely, or eat on their own or control other functions. They may rely on each other for support as well as others to take care of them. Thus, in some cases, when it is possible, separation of the conjoined twins is considered in order save their lives and their health.
Separation is done when the twins are very young usually between six and 12 months of age. It involves several surgeries to remove the twins from one another and they can be very complex since in some cases, the twins share vital organs too. Separation also involves sacrificing the life of one twin in order to save the other and because of this, many see this as an unethical and an immoral practice. There is also a possibility for both twins to die during separation and for these reasons; separation requires a lot of time, testing and preparation before the surgery. To this day, there have been about 200 twin separation surgeries.