The legendary Delaney twins never cease to amaze when it comes to their desire to survive. Heather and Riley Delaney of North Carolina would have given little thought to the definition of the term “craniopagus” prior to the disastrous year of 2016. The young parents had to forego purchasing nice newborn clothing for their two daughters in order to travel to clinics where they could seek treatment and hope for survival.
Their first two children, Erin and Abby, were born craniopagus, or with their heads fused together. Although separating conjoined twins is not without risks, it is usually quite successful. The Delaney infants’ fused skull bones, on the other hand, prevented the girls’ brains from developing normally in the womb. Both daughters were born 10 weeks early via caesarean section.
Parents are forced to choose between spending their limited time with their infants and sending them for potentially fatal separation surgery. Delaney tried his luck at gambling, and Erin and Abby divorced when their son was 11 months old. The doctors predicted that one of the girls would not survive. The work of disentangling bones and brains remains a cosmic undertaking, but it is not impossible to complete.
According to neurosurgeons, even a millimeter’s deviation to the right or left can permanently disable a child. As the doctors had predicted, one of the infants suffered more than the other. Abby’s life and death were at stake. The doctors were able to save her and bring the girls out of their induced comas, but it took a full week for them to recover. Abby returned to consciousness shortly after Erin. Erin and Abby have matured in the five years since they were separated, but they continue to “battle” with their bodies.