The odds were stacked against Misty and Curtis Oglesby when they learned they were having twins. Their babies weren’t just any twins. They were conjoined at the chest. And doctors gave the twins only a 5 to 25 percent chance of survival.
"We found out we were having twins and that they were conjoined all on the same day at the same appointment. I was 20 weeks along," Misty said. “The scariest part of it was the unknown.”
At first, the couple shied away from publicity. They were overwhelmed. A team of specialists at Cincinnati Children’s worked with them behind the scenes to calm their fears and come up with a plan to separate their babies.
“I felt like I was giving my world to them, and we were not sure if we would get them back," Misty said. “I knew it was necessary, but it was very, very difficult. They were perfect. To me, they were perfect, you know, they were my sweet, precious little girls.”
They were also medically complex. In addition to being conjoined, one of the twins, Selah, had a heart defect. They had separate hearts and sets of lungs but shared a liver.
"They were conjoined from the lower third of the chest all the way down to the umbilicus (belly button). In fact, they shared single umbilical chord," said their doctor Foong-Yen Lim, MD, surgical director of the Fetal Care Center. "We chose to watch them very, very carefully to make sure, that you know, that the babies continued to develop and grow while they were inside of Misty.”
When she was 31 weeks pregnant, Misty developed high blood pressure, so doctors delivered her babies by C-section. Over the next couple of months, the care team practiced separate simulations, expanded the twins’ skin tissue and figured out the best surgical approach to allow them to function independently.
"Once we hit the operating room," Dr. Lim said, "things just happened, you know, like clockwork.”
Six hours later, Selah and Shylah were no longer conjoined. They were two babies who needed proper care, feeding and healing. Selah had a few more medical issues than her sister, and the Oglesbys came to think of Cincinnati Children’s as their second home. Now that they’re home in Indiana and doing well, they’re starting to find a new normal.
"I’m still hopeful that, you know, they will continue to thrive," Dr. Lim said. "Curtis and Misty are doing an awesome job caring for the babies.”
The family credits the medical staff for helping the twins reach new milestones. Now celebrating their second birthday, the girls are beginning to talk and toddle around the family’s home. And no one is looking forward to the “terrible twos” more than their dad.
"You know, we always prayed and asked that they, we get out of the hospital and they, you know, get to be 2 years old and drive us nuts and that’s coming true," Curtis said. "So they’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off. But, no, now I just hope that they grow up like any other kid and I hope they can chase their dreams, too, and do what they want to do.”
“I just want them to grow up and explore this world that's around them and live life to its fullest because they've been given the opportunity that we weren’t sure that they would have," their mom said. "It’s overwhelming when you find out that there’s something wrong with your child. I think that there’s always hope and no matter what the circumstances are in front of you, you can’t give up hope.”
Read more about the twins in their mom's story on the Cincinnati Children's blog: http://wp.me/pFThB-5F4