Expecting a baby is always a big change for any couple, but for Emily and James Stark, they had no idea that they would be encountering a couple surprises along the way. The Colorado couple first learned about their special pregnancy during the first ultrasound, as they shared their story with Megyn Kelly on TODAY .
About 17 years ago, the Starks learned that they were having twins. While the news was definitely joyous, they quickly found out something that made the story notable: the twins would be born conjoined. The cases of conjoined twins are very rare and they only occur in one out of every 50,000 births. The degree to which twins are conjoined widely varies, as so the unfortunate numerous risk factors which are based off the conditions. The Starks suddenly found themselves with a lot of possibilities and hard discussions to consider.
Approximately 40-60% of conjoined twins are delivered stillborn. Even after that, 35% of conjoined twins that are born will only survive about a single day. It is often a lot for families of conjoined twins to take in, and the Starks were having to consider all the possibilities in the months leading up to their delivery. One of the things they definitely had to think about, was a future separation surgery – not exactly a light subject for any parent.
Their twins, named Lexi and Sydney, were born on March 9, 2001. They were conjoined at the spine, intestines, and tailbone. Despite being conjoined and the challenges that came of it, the girls were otherwise happy and healthy and after spending a few weeks in ICU, they were sent home.
Lexi and Sydney didn’t get separated right away, instead they had to wait six months before any surgery could be considered. For the first several months, Emily and James were proud parents, quickly settling into the routine of dressing, feeding, and caring for their two daughters. The Starks even said that Lexi and Sydny being conjoined in the initial stages, gave them a unique perspective on how to raise twins.
While the Starks made the decision to move forward with the separation surgery, it was not an easy decision to reach. They constantly worried if they would be somehow interfering with their twins uniqueness or future wellbeing. However, in the end, they decided it was for the best, and they were supported by a strong team of doctors and people around them. It finally came time for the surgery.
The girls underwent the all-day separation surgery on October 9, 2001 – exactly 6 months after being born. The statistics on separation and success are always difficult to calculate exactly, as each case of conjoined twins is its own unique situation despite all the medical evaluation. Fortunately for the Stark family, Lexi and Sydney’s separation was a success.
Lexi and Sydney went on to thrive in the years following their miraculous surgery and today, they have grown into teenagers who are ready to head off to college. They joined Megyn Kelly, alongside their mom and dad, to talk about a variety of topics like scars, beauty, and special “twin sense” they still have, even after being separated.
You can watch their interview below:
Have you ever had conjoined twins in your family? Were you yourself a conjoined twin? Let us know!