McCullough was unfortunately the recipient of a one in every 200.000 births occurrence – she delivered two conjoined twin girls whom she named Hannah and Olivia at Colorado’s Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, the two shared too many vital organs and body parts – the abdomen, intestinal tract and liver – and one of them was sure to die after the surgery to separate the two.
As a result, Olivia did not survive the five hour separation surgery which began immediately as the twins were delivered on Wednesday. Hope isn’t all lost for McCullough though – her other twin daughter, Hannah, survived the operation and is now in critical, but stable condition. In the end, this is actually a better outcome than most cases – almost half of live conjoined twin births come out stillborn.
McCullough is optimistic about her daughter’s chances of survival, telling ABC that she believes in the power of prayer and in the skills of the medical staff from the Colorado hospital. She went to Facebook before the birth to announce the plan of separating the twins after birth, and also said she is dedicated towards offering Hannah the chance of a normal life.
“Nevertheless, she could be very important and really delicate, McCullough wrote to the station. Furthermore, the surgical separation would be another life-threatening milestone that must be undergone by conjoined twins. So what I would like is to appeal to as many people public for prayer”.
In the past, she posted ultrasound scans of her twin daughters on the social media platform, explaining that despite the grim situation, the girls are already offering her joy. McCullough already has a son, six year old Tristan, and is a US Army Reserves captain.
Conjoined twin births are very rare, according to a University of Michigan study, which shows that one such birth happens once every 200.000 live births. Unfortunately, the survival rate is still extremely low following the separation surgery. If between 40 and 60 per cent of conjoined twins are delivered stillborn, only 35 per cent of the rest survive more than one day after birth, bringing conjoined twin survival chances to between 5 and 25 per cent. At the same time, at least one of the twins dies after the separation surgery in 75 per cent of cases.
Image Source: ABC News