When Amy Carlsen was pregnant, nothing could have prepared her and her husband Jesse for what the doctors told them. Not only were they expecting twins, but they were conjoined twins. Then, after six months of being connected at the chest, they were separated for good. Now, 16 years later, they are living healthy teenage lives.
Carlsen conjoined twins
In December 2005, Abby and Isabelle Carlsen were born to Jesse and Amy. They were two beautiful little girls, but they had one feature that stood out among all the babies born that day. They were connected at the chest and the stomach. Which meant they had to remain at the hospital after they were born because their organs were tangled together. This caused some major complications and their lives were at risk. Isabelle’s heart was more on Abby’s side of their shared chest, and other organs were twisting together.
Then, after months of research, the doctors found a way to separate them for good. This was a dream come true for their parents, although they were informed of the risks involved. It took 17 different surgeons. There was a team for every part of their bodies that was connected, and one set of teams for each of the conjoined twins. A pancreas team, a liver team, a team of plastic surgeons, and more.
Thankfully, after a whole day of operating, Abby and Isabelle officially became formerly conjoined twins on May 12th, 2006. Jesse said to the media, “Today, a lot of our prayers have been answered.” Then, about two weeks after the intense operation, the now separate twins went home with their parents.
Read: 59-Year-Old Mom Gives Birth to Twins While Oldest Daughter Is ‘Disgusted by Her Decision’
When the twins celebrated 10 years of being separated, their story was highlighted again. People wanted to know what the twins were like now that they were growing up. One thing is for sure, they had lot of energy, which they channeled through to gymnastics.
The formerly conjoined twins shared few interests, the gymnastics being one of them. If anyone confused one for the other, they would assertively correct you. “They don’t want to be confused for one another,” their father, Jesse said. “They’re their own person.” Abby confirmed this by saying, “Every night we look in the mirror in our room, and we’re like, how do people get us mixed up?”
In school, their teacher, Tiffany Moos, described them as an energetic pair. They balance being academically prone fast learners, with social skills that make it easy for them to make friends. “I can’t imagine how healthy they are, nothing stops them,” said Moos in an interview with WCCO. “They are academically at an advanced level, and socially they are friends with everyone. There is a reason there needed to be separated.”
Do they remember?
They live healthy and happy lives, completely unaware of their past as conjoined twins. Although, they both wear a necklace that says “One in a million” as the only reminder of their past. It has been 16 years since the separation surgery that made history in the medical world. There are some subtle signs that their body remembers being connected. “In the mall, we like grab each other’s hands. It’s weird,” the girls said.
The formerly conjoined twins share a twin connection like no other. They have experienced telepathic moments here they think the same thoughts, proven when one of them speaks out loud. Furthermore, they have had conversations with each other, without saying a single word.
- “North Dakota conjoined twins celebrate 10 years apart.” CBS News. May 26, 2016.
- “Abby and Belle Carlsen: Three Years Later. News Network. Joelstreed. June 12, 2009.