Conjoined twins who shared part of the same body have given an update on their life-saving operation more than a decade ago.
In August 2006, at the age of 4, Kendra Deene Herrin and Maliyah Mae Herrin were separated, leaving each twin with only one leg.
Thirteen years after the risky, 26-hour-long surgery, they’re thriving, reported Health.com in late April 2019, citing a BBC documentary. The two are almost done with their junior year in high school.
“We don’t really remember the pain of the surgery, but we do know that we recovered quickly,” Maliyah told Health.com. “Almost two weeks after the surgery, we were already jumping around our beds.”
The two shared a kidney while conjoined, and Maliyah got the kidney while Kendra went on dialysis for nine months until she received a donated kidney. However, she’s had to receive a number of kidney transplants since her operation after her body rejected them.
“We’re both so glad that we’re separated,” added Kendra. “I think we’re closer now that we’re separated because I think if we were still conjoined we’d fight all the time, because we’d always be together.”
The two have also had to have a number of follow-up surgeries over the years, including spinal surgery and other procedures.
“We’re really close still,” Kendra added. “We have the same friends and we do everything together.”
The twins say they’re very accustomed to only having one leg each, and they move around by using rolling chairs and walkers.
“When people first hear our story, they like to ask a lot of questions,” Maliyah told Yahoo.“To get around, we do different things for different places. I think we’ve adapted fully because we didn’t ever have two legs [each].”
She said that the twins “feel like we’re the same as everybody else, we just have a few things that are a little different.”
Meanwhile, Kendra was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “high school has been really good so far … We’ve never been bullied at school. We’re lucky.”
The twins also started their own YouTube channel, Herrin Twins, several years ago and regularly post videos about their lives. Kendra told the Mail that “we like making the videos just to make people positive.”
The twins also recalled how it felt being conjoined.
“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 said.
Meanwhile, during that fateful day when they were separated, “We just called it ‘cut apart day,'” she added.
“We didn’t really know what it meant. We were afraid of every surgery though so when we went in for that surgery, I just remember crying,” Kendra recalled.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Conjoined twins develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals. Although two fetuses will develop from this embryo, they will remain physically connected — most often at the chest, abdomen or pelvis. Conjoined twins may also share one or more internal organs.”
“Many conjoined twins die in the womb (stillborn) or die shortly after birth. Some surviving conjoined twins can be surgically separated. The success of surgery depends on where the twins are joined and how many and which organs are shared, as well as the experience and skill of the surgical team.”
The clinic noted there are “no specific signs or symptoms” that indicate the twins will be conjoined.