happyworld - Couple Adopts Triplets; But When They’re Born, Doctors Give Them The News

    Conjoined twins is a genetic disorder in which two babies are born with some parts of their bodies fused together. Most of the time, they require surgical separation to survive. As rare as their condition was, the Garrison sisters’ case was even more unusual. Read on to see what made them so special and what the girls look like today.


    Discovery UK
    Mackenzie, Macy and Madeline were triplets born in 2002. Their parents struggled with drug use so they decided to give them up for adoption in hopes that they’d find a family who could better provide for them. Jeff and Darla Garrison seemed to be just that. But the couple did not expect that they’d become parents to one of the rarest set of triplets in the world.

    Serenity Inc.
    You see, Mackenzie and Macy were not just identical twins: they were conjoined. And further than that, they were “ischiopagus twins”, meaning they were born conjoined at the pelvis. This made them the rarest kind of conjoined twins, and having been born with a separate sister was only the second case of this kind of triplets known in the world. Being such a rarity proved to be a medical challenge for their family.

    Bob Riha Jr./CHLA
    Mackenzie and Macy didn’t just share a pelvis, they shared a leg and entwined intestines. This meant a surgical separation could be potentially dangerous. They also had a slower development, and people often thought Madeline was their older sister even though she was born five minutes after them. But aside from the medical issues, they were two sweet girls whom the Garrisons were committed to help thrive.

    Serenity Inc.
    The Garrisons already had three sons when they adopted the triplets: Tyler, 9; Matt, 6; and Luke, 5. The family had welcomed several foster children throughout the years, but they had always wanted a set of girls to complement their nuclear family. Once the triplets arrived, it was love at first sight. They also noticed that Mackenzie and Macy’s connection was more than just being physically attached.

    Garrison Family
    “Macy would suck Mackenzie’s thumb and Mackenzie would suck Macy’s thumb, it was always really cute. It was a source of comfort for them,” said Darla of the baby twins. Their personalities also complemented each other, as Macy was the timid one and Mackenzie was loud and bubbly. But despite their bond, their parents knew they had to separate them so they could live independent lives. This would not be an easy task.

    Discovery UK
    The Garrison family went to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for help. Pediatric surgeon Dr. James Stein was the man in charge of the separation. “To be able to do this type of complex surgery is kind of a dream come true. But there were lots of things that could go wrong,” explained the doctor. The surgery would take 24 hours, and any operation involving young babies always carries a large risk. But it was their only option, and it paid off.

    Serenity Inc.
    The surgery was successful, and Mackenzie and Macy came out of it without large complications. They would need reconstructive surgery of their intestines and genitals, and one prosthetic leg for each. But the risk to their lives was gone, and they’d finally have a chance at growing up and living relatively normal lives. However, the separation had a bittersweet effect for the girls.

    Serenity Inc.
    Having come into the world together, at first the girls were distressed about being apart from each other. But with rehabilitation they began embracing their newfound autonomy and finally had the chance to bond with their triplet, Madeline. They had physical therapists helping them learn to walk, but they wouldn’t be able to have permanent prosthetics until they had finished growing. Still, that didn’t seem to stop them one bit.

    Darla Garrison
    Two years after the surgery, the Garrisons moved from California to a farm in Indianola, Iowa. Jeff and Darla wanted to give the girls a “country childhood” just like the one they both had and treasured. The girls grew up with a love of horses, and they were so well behaved and responsible that eventually they each got their own horse. Now, at 14 years old, you won’t even recognize them.

    Instagram/Madeline Garrison
    Today, the girls are middle school students and they haven’t let their physical limitations keep them from having a normal teen life. “When they encounter something they can’t do,” said their mother, “they don’t dwell on it too long.” Perhaps this is due to the way they were brought up by Darla and her husband, as people close to them can attest to.

    NBC/Today
    “When you raise children who are handicapped in any way, when they’re surrounded by people who treat them like regular kids, that becomes how they see themselves,” explained Linda Kontis, co-founder of the foster care agency that placed the triplets with the Garrisons, Serenity Inc. “It wasn’t just Darla and Jeff, they took in these girls as a family unit. And that’s why they’re fabulous kids today.” The man who saved their lives seems to agree.


      “The girls have succeeded through hard work and the commitment by their family. Their progression is wonderful and inspiring,” said James Stein, the doctor who performed their separation surgery. And though they are as active and energetic as any other kid their age, they are still growing, and walking with prosthetics continues to be a struggle.

      NBC/Today
      To be able to discharge their body wastes, they have to wear ostomy bags and change them frequently. “Ostomies do upset your daily life,” said Darla. “That’s a lot of responsibility for a kid to make sure everything’s intact and they’re not going to run into some trouble when they’re out somewhere.” Even so, they have all the vitality and promise of any girl their age.

      Instagram/Madeline Garrison
      Macy continues to be the quiet one, and has turned her introspection into a talent for arts and crafts. Mackenzie, for her part, loves being outdoors and moving – she even helped a neighbor train for track tryouts by running up and down her family’s driveway. But they share a love of pop music: “We used to have Bieber fever, but we’ve outgrown it,” said their mother. “We’re loving on Hunter Hayes these days. And also One Direction.”

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