Hope and Faith, the rare set of conjoined twins who were born with two faces and one body in Australia early this month, have passed away. The twin girls were only 19-days old when they bid farewell to the world, on Monday, May 26. Current Affair first reported the sad news on Twitter.
"SAD NEWS: Conjoined twin girls, Hope & Faith, have passed away. Our thoughts are with their parents Simon & Renee," the Channel 9's Current Affair, tweeted.
The microblogging site has been flooded with tributes since the news was first announced yesterday night 8.31 p.m.
"Terribly heartbreaking. Our thoughts are with Simon & Renee on the passing of their precious miracles," one of the messages on Twitter read, while another one added: "Sad, but for their sake probably the best at least they r at peace now RIP girls."
The Sydney-based couple Renee Young and Simon Howie welcomed their twin girls on May, 8. The conjoined twins, born with a rare medical condition known as diprosopus, soon captured international attention for sharing the same heart, body and skull, and at the same time having separate brains with their own identical faces.
Though doctors detected this rare occurrence by 19th week into the pregnancy, the couple denied aborting their little ones. "We sort of looked at it as; it'd be the same as being a child with autism or Down syndrome. I sort of don't believe in terminating the baby if it's healthy and growing fine and everything is going to plan," Howie told Woman's Day according to Daily Mail.
Young, who is already a mother to seven children, started getting labour pains by 32 weeks of her pregnancy and successfully gave birth to her girls early this month. Though doctors at The Children's Hospital at Westmead had little hope of the baby's survival, surprising everyone, the girls started recovering fast in the few days after their birth. "They are breathing perfectly on their own and feeding," Howie told Woman's Day. "They even had their first bath last night."
The proud mother, since has been giving a regular update about her twins on the social media. "It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says--fact is simply this, I HAVE SOME PRECIOUS BABIES!!!!" she wrote on her FB account on 14 May, adding after two days: "My baby girls make my heart skip a beat, they take my breathe away, and when i look into their eyes the world just disappears."
Conjoined twins are formed when a woman releases a single egg and it fails to separate completely after fertilisation. Though the embryo starts splitting into two, the process stops in the middle and the partial separation results in conjoined twins. In diprosopus, the rare occurrence happens particularly due to the abnormal activity of a protein called SHH or sonic hedgehog. Excess production of the protein leads to broadening of facial features, plus duplication of facial structures.
Similar cases have been reported in India in the past. In 2008, a couple based in Sunpura Sohanpur village near Delhi, named Sushma and Vinod Singh welcomed a baby girl named Lali Singh with two pair of noses, eyes and two mouths. But she had only one set of ears. However, the baby girl suffered a heart attack and died, when she was only two-months-old.