Renee Young and Simon Howie, of Tregear in Sydney's west, say they were shocked when an ultrasound revealed the twins they were expecting were in fact only one child, but with two perfectly symmetrical faces and two brains connected to the one brain stem. Three-dimensional scans show the child has two legs, two arms and one body and all its vital organs, including a strong beating heart. But while doctors told Ms Young she should not keep the child 'because it would be looked upon by the public as a freak', the couple has decided to go through with the birth and 'surround' the child 'with people who love it'.
Scroll down for video After getting over the shock of expecting a baby which has two faces and two brains, but a single body, parents of seven, Renee Young and Simon Howie are defying doctor's advice by going through with the birth of the child which they say they shall love even though it will be 'ridiculed' The baby, show here in an ultrasound image of the foetus in utero, is an extreme version of conjoined twin girls which have two faces and two brains joined by a single brain stem, but one body with a single heart Three-dimensional scans show the child has two legs, two arms and one body, but above the neck as seen on the model, left the child has two faces on one double-vaulted skull, an exact duplication of eyes, nose and mouth, and two brains pictured above right on medical imaging connected to one brain stem Above the neck, the child has one double-vaulted skull and two faces with an exact duplication of eyes, nose and mouth.
Ms Young described her unborn child, now 19 weeks old, as 'healthy. Despite the medical unlikelihood of the baby surviving past infancy, the couple has decided to surround her with 'the love' of their large family.
Surrounded by seven children who range in age from teenagers down to the youngest, who is in a high chair, Mr Howie said they had refused to end the pregnancy on 'moral' grounds. During a scheduled appointment, the sonographer told Ms Young 'something was up' and sent her to the couple's GP, who broke the news. The doctor told the couple their baby had 'a conjoinment of the vaults of the skull, which pretty much said there was a conjoined twin,' Mr Howie said.
Initially, he was 'shocked, confused, a little bit of everything … I wasn't sure how to take in what he was explaining to me," Mr Howie told A Current Affair. Ms Young was too far along in her pregnancy to abort the child.
Further tests were made and and a meeting with their obstetrician the couple saw images of their baby's duplication, which occurs only in four per cent of conjoined twins.
But the specialist's advice to end the baby's life was met with the couple's firm resolve to 'go through with it'. They said they had defied the doctors' urging them not to bring into the world a child that would be regarded as a freak partly because Ms Young had never terminated a pregnancy and because they had a family 'that gives us a lot of support'.
Maternal foetal specialist Greg Kesby has seen several conjoined twins in his career but none quite like this. Shock and disbelief gave way to acceptance by expectant Renee Young and Simon Howie of Sydney who say 'it will be hard for the community to accept' their next child 'as a normal person' but they felt a moral obligation not to terminate the baby Renee Young did not know anything was wrong until 15 weeks into her pregnancy when a routine ultrasound above showed she was carrying a rare form of conjoined twins called diprosopus, of which only 35 cases have been recorded, and none survived Conjoining of twins happens between days 13 and 25 of pregnancy when the embryo fails above to split into two separate babies and fusion occurs 'It's probably the rarest of all the conjoined twins, you'd be thinking numbers of one in a million to one in two million for this kind of anomaly,' he said.
Dr Kesby said there was a good chance the couple's child would not survive to a live birth but if she did, treatment could prove costly. But the burgeoning family said they would 'cross that bridge as it comes'.
The couple's three teenage daughters, Jess, Patsy-Anne and Angel said they did not believe their mother should terminate the pregnancy. It's still a human,' said Patsy-Anne. The last known case of diprosopus was the birth of baby girl Lali in in a remote Indian village. She struggled to feed properly due to her condition and two months to the day she was born, she died.