Conjoined twins Owen and Emmett Ezell successfully underwent surgery over the weekend in Dallas, their tiny one-month-old bodies that were fused from the breastbone to the navel at birth carefully separated. The boys were born on July 15, UPI reported Aug. 30, after parents Jenni and David agonized over whether or not they should even have the twins. But when Dallas Medical City Children's Hospital doctors told them that there was a chance that the twins might live and could perhaps be successfully separated, they decided to trust the doctors.
“I have two babies… two separate babies!” Jenni Ezell exclaimed at an afternoon press conference Thursday, according to CBS 11 News in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Her excitement stems not only from the success of the operation but also from the decision to allow her pregnancy to go to term. Doctors informed the Ezells that they had conjoined twins in March. But there were further complications: Not only did they share certain organs -- like the liver and bowels -- but their intestines had formed outside their small attached bodies.
In fact, the Ezells decided to abort. "We didn't think they had a chance," Jenni Ezell said. "We thought they were not going to make it at all. So we decided to abort. It was the hardest decision that a mother has to make about her babies."
But then the Dallas Medical City doctors approached the couple and told them there might be a chance that the twins could not only be separated but could possibly thrive. It was those same complications that worried the experts that formed the basis for the doctors' determination that the twins could be successfully separated.
Neonatologist Dr. Clare Schwendeman, the specialist heading the team taking care of Owen and Emmett, told the Ezells that there was a 30-to-50 percent chance that they would have two surviving children. He announced that, postoperatively, the twins were "as stable as we could hope for." He noted the operation was a success due to a collaboration of medical professionals at Dallas Medical City, including the dedicated work of the team that guided Jenni Ezell through a difficult pregnancy.
“The whole pregnancy was very frightening,” said the happy mother. “ I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t know if they would make it. I mean, it was hard, as a Mom.”
She said that news that the doctors could possibly save the babies and separate them had been overwhelming. “We really weren’t seeking a second opinion, it’s just that God gave us the second. I feel like he’s basically led us to exactly where we needed to be, and introduced us to the exact people, at the exact time…”
Jennie's voice faded, overcome with emotion. Dave, her husband, finished for her, saying, "So, I guess the lesson is to have faith.”
At present, Owen and Emmett are doing well. They will face more operations over a span of years, but they do have a future. And sometime in the next few months they will get to go home to join their 7-year-old and 16-month-old brothers who are currently being cared for by family members.
Jenni Ezell says she's looking forward to Christmas.
“Taking them home and having Christmas with them—I’m already planning their first birthday parties,” she says, “just everything. I’m looking forward to everything.”