Famous conjoined twins Isabelle and Abby separated 12 years ago now lead normal lives

Doctors in Minnesota called them "miracle twins"; they were born joined by the chest and beat the odds when they both survived the surgery to separate them. Now, the Carlsen twins are celebrating more than 12 years of living their own lives and have a lot to tell. If you were wondering what they have been up to, don't worry! In today's article, we have a fantastic update. 


More than a decade has passed since that striking medical case that shook the world. As Little Things reported, Jesse and Amy Carlsen were a couple who gladly welcomed into the world twin baby girls on Nov. 29, 2005: Isabelle and Abigail (also known as Abby). 

When the two girls were born, they napped instinctively reaching each other's hand. They were inseparable, but literally. Doctors found out that the identical twins were born conjoined from their chest to their bellies. To complicate things more, Isabelle's heart was intertwined in Abby's chest, and their organs were encased together, sharing a liver and a small intestine. 

The girls couldn't live like that their whole lives; they had to be separated, so Jesse and Amy were forced to make a difficult decision: would they attempt to divide their baby girls? The medical procedure was risky, and the chances of losing one or both of their daughter were very high. 


According to Star Tribune, the University of Maryland Medical Center stated that "conjoined twins occur in one of every 200,000 births, but more than 45 percent are stillborn when delivered, and another 35 percent survive only the first day. At the time of the Carlsen separation, 60 percent of all such procedures ended in fatalities."

Isabelle and Abby spent their first six months of life at a hospital room until May 12, 2006, when they had to undergo the dangerous surgery in Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. A daring medical team, led by surgeon Christopher Moir, was assigned to this case. The specialists planned, practiced and trained for months for the separation surgery using 3D scanning technology. 

The source added that the procedure was possible because the babies had their own hearts and lungs; however, the fusion of a liver and intestine made the surgery to be like no other separation. This difficulty made Moir find a way to cut the odds of death from the 60% that medical literature stated to only 10%. 

A multidisciplinary care team composed of 17 members set off to the titanic task of a 12-hour surgery, as Mayo Clinic reported. Despite the many challenges that presented during half of a day, the doctors managed to complete the procedure successfully, which anyone could say was a complete marathon.

Two weeks later, they passed all the medical tests and could be discharged, so they went to their home in North Dakota as two completely different people. It is hard to believe that almost 13 years have passed since that moment, and now Belle and Abby lead successful and happy lives. 


Now, they are in fifth grade and live in Mandan, North Dakota. Their medical history caught the world's attention at that time. But these days, they are two sisters who share a very contagious vibe and assure that they are not as similar as people believe. These were their words:

"Every night, we look at ourselves in the mirror of our room and say, how do people confuse us?"

After 12 years, their parents have seen them become giggly girls. However, Jesse and Amy Carlsen claimed that the girls always try to show their differences. Despite being twins, they do not want to be confused; for them, it is essential to show that they are entirely different individuals.

Despite their wishes, Mayo Clinic reported Jesse stating they are protective of everyone and have a caring and soft side. "They stand up for each other and their friends on the playground, and include others who are left out," Jesse explained. Abby also added they sometimes like grabbing each other's hands at the mall, even though she finds it weird.


Both like practicing gymnastics, buying new clothes, and competing for everything. They are far from being sheltered. Star Tribune stated, "Abby is one hip spin from fulfilling the prerequisites to compete in gymnastics. Belle needs to hold a handstand on the beam long enough to yell 'one gymnastics' to do the same." 


In their classrooms, the Carlsen twins are simply Isabelle and Abby. Therefore, their teacher, Tiffany Moos, says that they are two girls who compete a lot, but who have great qualities. Moos states the sisters are academically advanced and get along very well with their classmates. 

For a school history demonstration, Belle went for Marie Curie, while Abby opted for Jackie Kennedy. According to Star Tribune, one of the girls bet on Hillary Clinton, whereas the other one backed Trump up, although none of them liked the presidential candidates much. These subtle choices prove how different they are. 

Read more: Worldwide Famous Conjoined Twins Opened Up About Their Love Life


By Star Tribune, the worry still comes to the parents from what they experienced with the girls. Both girls needed Gore-Tex implants to cover some gaps in their chest walls that the surgery left, with Belle needing extra protection since she only had a thin layer of skin over her heart and lungs.

Until a few years ago, the girls had to wear protective clothing on their chests, but this is already a problem of the past thanks to the new implants. However, Belle might need another surgery if she outgrows that covering, and doctors hope that medical advanced in 3D printed organs can help grow a new sternum with her own stem cells to implant it on her. 

Read more: World’s first set of twins born with different skin colors are now 21 

As for mom Amy, who is a registered nurse at Sanford Health in Bismarck, she confessed that little things such as a stomachache still scare her "because you just don’t know." But she added that words could not express her thankfulness to Mayo Clinic for what they did for her girls. 

She also added that her daughters might become doctors or journalists when they grow up since they have been around those professionals for so long throughout their lives, even though media coverage has decreased these last few years. Or maybe they will become gymnastics, who knows?

What is most incredible about the twins' miracle is not that they survived, but that they have progressed and grown up a lot; both are in good health as any other girl. We are so happy to know they are out of danger and leading normal lives, and we bet their miracle story will remain in the hearts of a whole nation. If you liked this article, share it with others. Until next time! 

Source: Star Tribune, Mayo Clinic, Little Things


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