Conjoined Twins Share Single Heart

Babies, born in Brazil on Monday, have two heads and two brains
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2011 9:27 AM CST

(Newser) – Conjoined twins Jesus and Emanuel, born in Brazil on Monday, have two heads with two functioning brains, but just one heart. The condition, dicephalic parapagus, is extremely rare, thought to affect just one in 100,000 pregnancies—and half don’t reach full-term, the BBC reports. Doctors say Jesus and Emanuel, who also have two spinal cords, cannot be separated because they share just one set of organs. Their 25-year-old mother was expecting twins, but didn't have any ultrasounds while pregnant and learned of the condition just minutes before the boys were born, notes the Daily Mail.

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"What we know statistically is that the children who undergo surgery and survive are the children who have less organs in common," says their doctor, adding that while one head could be removed, both brains are functioning, making such a choice a crushing one. "What we've got to think about at this moment is to maintain the children in good condition and see how they will develop,” she says. The mother has breastfed both babies, and their appetites are normal, though the AP reports that one of the boys is having respiratory problems and requires "special care." (Read more conjoined twins stories.)

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