These Conjoined Twins Celebrated 10 Years Apart

When you first see twin sisters Abby and Isabelle Carlson, you probably wouldn’t think anything is unusual about them. True, they look exactly alike, but otherwise the sisters seem like completely normal 10-year-old girls.

Little would you know that these sisters almost lost their lives at the very start of their lives.

Abby and Isabelle were conjoined twins at birth, with Isabelle’s heart more in Abby’s chest, and almost all of their organs twisted between their two bodies. And just ten years ago, doctors at the Mayo Clinic were training to perform an incredibly tricky surgery: they were preparing to separate the two conjoined twins.

Although the medical teams assure the girls’ parents that they had the situation under control, everyone involved knew the potential risks. But pediatric surgeon, Dr. Christopher Moir, had prepared his staff well for the procedure, and everyone was ready to save these two little girls.

“You have your cardiac team, your pancreatic team, your liver team, the plastic surgery teams…and then double them, because there’s two patients,” Dr. Moir told CBS back in 2006.

On May 12th, 2006 these 17 surgeons spent 12 hours successfully separating Abby and Isabelle. Just two weeks later, the girls were able to return to their North Dakota home as two.

Now, ten years later, the Carlson family has been lucky enough to watch their two kids grow up. They watched them walk on their own, learn gymnastics, grown in and out of clothes, and pick up an optimistic thirst for life.

Conjoined twins ten years later.WCCO - CBS Minnesota
The girls are giggly, extremely academically advanced, physically healthy — and a bit competitive, too! Neither twin wants to be confused for the other and they have an ongoing competition between them that only siblings will truly understand.

One of the girls’ teachers assured CBS that “there’s a reason” the twins are separated, which we can only imagine stems from their ferocious need to outdo one another! Their “One in a Million” necklaces are the only blatant reminder of how truly special they are when apart from their identical twin.

However, despite their insistence that they are their own people, the girls still have an unbreakable bond. They admit to CBS that they have a tendency to grab each others’ hand when they’re in public places, like in the local shopping mall.

Black and white picture of the young conjoined twins.WCCO - CBS Minnesota
“It’s weird,” the girls giggle, pulling awkwardly apart from one another.

But it is truly anything but “weird”! As their parents can see, this instinctive motion goes all the way back to their time conjoined; the two hands they tend to hold are the two that were pressed together during the first weeks of their lives.

This hand holding is symbolic of a bond these girls will always share. They will grow up to be strong, smart, independent young women — no doubt they will always be competing with one another and trying to stand on their own — but they will always have a deep-seeded relationship, one that only they will truly be able to understand.

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