Conjoined twins separated through surgery at 7 months are happy and healthy at 17 years later
Sydney and Lexi Stark share a couple of twin quirks like being able to tell if the other one is upset or in pain even when they are completely apart.
Twins Sydney and Lexi Stark were lucky to be born in the year 2001 after facing many odds. They were conjoined at their lower body when they were born and it is reported that around 30-40% of all conjoined twins are delivered stillborn. Only an estimated 35% survive the first day.
However, around 7 months later the Stark twin girls were successfully separated during a risky surgery and are now healthy and thriving 17 years later. During an appearance on 'Live with Megyn Kelly', the twins father, James Stark, shared, "I think it was always, they will survive. I don’t think it was ever a question". During a doctor's visit before the birth of the twins, James and his wife Emily came to know that the twins were conjoined.
"I just remember looking at the ceiling, and I just kind of tuned out. And James kind of took over from there," Emily recalled. "Obviously we knew what conjoined twins were, you see stories and you read about them," James continued. "[The doctor] brought out this thousand-page medical book and flipped through it to the page on conjoined twins and there was literally two paragraphs on conjoined twins".
However, the family did their best to remain optimistic and James was even making jokes on the day Lexi and Sydney were born. "The girls were squirming and James went over to Lexi and he said, ‘Oh Lexi, are you having a nightmare that your sister is stuck to your butt?’ And all the nurses giggled. They were like, okay, this family is going to be just fine," Emily shared.
On October 9, 2001, the girls were brought in the hospital for their surgery. Since the twin girls were joined at the spine and also shared a spinal cord and some intestines, the doctors warned that the there was a lot of risks involved that one or both could get paralyzed or even die. "We had done so many things to get to this day, and about two weeks before I looked at James and I said, are we playing God? Are we messing with perfection? Because we could keep them together and we could keep them, but are we messing this up?" Emily shared.
However, James shared that they had spent many months before the twins birth as well as before their surgery contemplating and came to the conclusion that they would go ahead with the risky procedure. "At the end of the day you have to trust that you made the right decision with the information you had at the time," James added. "If something went wrong, you’re never prepared for that, but at least you went into it knowing what you were doing," he continued.
After hours of surgery, the twins were successfully separated. "The room just exploded, you could hear that ‘Woohoo! Two babies!'" Emily joyfully recalled. "We got the fairytale. We know the ending, so far". Now the twins are happy and healthy at the age of 17 and share a couple of twin quirks like being able to tell if the other one is upset or in pain even when they are completely apart.
"In upsetting situations, sometimes I won’t get upset, I’ll be like, that’s not a big deal. While she’s over here like, that’s so awful, oh my goodness and freaking out for me," Lexi shared. "Sometimes I won’t know and she’ll come home and say I had a bad day, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh there it is,’" Sydney explained. The twins may be looking at being apart for a while and Sydney hopes to go to the University of Missouri in St. Louis while Lexi is hoping to go to the University of Calgary.