After conjoined twins Maliyah and Kendra Herrin were born sharing large intestine, kidney, pelvis, liver, and abdomen, doctors feared they wouldn’t survive.
The girls are now 17 and thriving after an unprecedented day-long operation that left them with one leg each when they were only 4.
A BBC Three documentary shows Maliyah and Kendra, who got their liver, going about their daily lives like most other teenagers.
“When people first hear our story, they like to ask a lot of questions,” they said. “But simply we feel like we’re the same as everybody else, we just have a few things that are a little different.”
The girls were born conjoined in Salt Lake City, Utah. At that time, surgeons had never separated twins with only one kidney, so it required months of preparation and research.
Doctors said it would give the children independence but the surgery carried a risk of death. Fortunately, the process went smoothly and the girls returned home within six weeks.
The two are thankful their parents decided to continue with the procedure. Speaking about the experience, Maliyah told Barcroft TV: “We are happy that our parents chose to separate us.”
Before the surgery, the girls had to learn how to get around together.
“I just remember that I would always want to be in control so I would pretty much run over her and she would be on her head,” Kendra recalled.
She also joked: “The best thing about only having one leg each is we only have to paint one set of toenails.”
The girls love their schoolwork and they have a YouTube channel, Herrin Twins, to share their stories.
They told BBC that they understand when children stare at them but they feel uncomfortable when adults give them the looks.
“We’re kind of like… it’s strange. They should know no to,” they expressed.
Kendra got her kidney from their mom when she was five. After ten years, her body started rejecting it and she went on dialysis. After almost two years of waiting, an anonymous donor came through.
The two are now in good health and they have decided to go to public school so they can mingle with other people their age.
One of their classmates and friends, Anabelle, said to BBC: “They have taught me so much about going through trials and accepting them with grace and brave.”
Kendra said that their high school experience has been good so far. “We’ve never been bullied at school. We’re lucky,” Maliyah added.
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