Conjoined Twins Who Were ‘Cut In Half’ Aged Four Share Their Inspirational Story
Two sisters who were born as conjoined twins have told their inspirational story in a new short film for BBC Three.
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin from Salt Lake, Utah, were born 17 years ago, sharing a liver and only one kidney between them, and doctors didn't expect them to live beyond 24 hours.
Despite this, the two sisters survived life-threatening surgery to separate them when they were just four years old, and now live with one leg each.
The twins nicknamed the day of their procedure 'cut apart day' and admit they 'didn't really know what it meant' at the time.
Following their surgical separation, Kendra was left with the kidney while Maliyah was on dialysis for nine months until their mother Erin donated hers.
Sadly, the kidney failed ten years later meaning Maliyah had to be put back on dialysis for a further two-and-a-half years.
Proud mum Erin says: "She just took it in her stride. She had friends on dialysis who had passed away and she had to deal with the loss of her friends which was really hard. I'm just amazed at how well she did it, I don't think could do it."
The sisters are currently enjoying high school and say they've never been bullied, but admit it's 'hard' when their classes are far apart as they have to use frames to get around the campus.
Although they remain very close, the girls admit they have totally different personalities and would have found it very difficult to have lived a permanently conjoined life.
While Kendra is the 'outgoing' one, Maliyah tends to be quieter. Their PE teacher Donna says the twins came in 'timid and weak in some areas' but have since achieved their goal of climbing stairs with just their crutches.
"They're just getting stronger all the time," says Donna. "They're so determined."
BBC Three's Living Differently explores how the sisters face tough day-to-day challenges, and how they have started to overcome these to become an inspiration to others.
"When people first hear our story, they like to ask a lot of questions," the twins admit. "To get around, we do different things for different places. I think we've adapted fully because we didn't ever have two legs [each]."
Kendra adds: "We feel like we're the same as everybody else, we just have a few things that are a little different.
"The best thing about having one leg each is we only have to paint one set of toenails, so that's really nice. Mostly little kids stare at us, but when adults stare at us [...] they should know not to stare."
Mum Erin adds: "The self-esteem that they have blows me away. Lots of people could learn a lot of things from them."
"We are happy that our parents chose to separate use," says Maliyah, who together with her sister runs a successful YouTube channel where they talk about their day-to-day lives.
Watch the full episode of Living Differently on BBC Three's YouTube channel here. The full series will be available as a boxset on BBC Three via iPlayer from Monday 29th April
Featured Image Credit: BBCThree