The twins Kendra and Maliyah Herrin arrived to the world on February 26, 2002.
Their parents, Erin and Jake, were happy that their beloved daughters had finally seen the light of day.
At the same time, they were faced with a life-changing, difficult decision.
Kendra Deene Herrin and Maliyah Mae Herrin were born on February 26, 2002, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The sisters came into the world as a rare set of Ischiopagus/Omphalopagus conjoined twins and were sharing a large intestine, bladder, liver, and single kidney.
Kendra and Maliyah were connected at the abdomen and pelvis and shared numerous vital organs and one pair of legs.
Early on, parents Erin and Jake knew that separating them was going to be incredibly risky.
Doctors told the parents that their girls didn’t have the organs needed to survive on their own outside of Erin’s womb.
Leading up to their birth, doctors were unsure that they’d survive their first weeks.
When Erin was still pregnant, she was advised to abort the twins altogether.
“Another doctor told us to simply abort the twins because it was all too complicated. But I’d seen our daughters’ faces close up, at an MRI scan, and fallen in love with them,” said Erin.
Whether it would happen in a day or several years into the future, Kendra and Maliyah were bound to face life-threatening health problems as they grew up.
As the girls grew up, Erin and Jake were finally faced with that difficult and life-changing dilemma – either keep the girls conjoined or attempt an extremely risky separation surgery.
A successful separation promised a higher likelihood of survival into adulthood, but operation also came with a risk of losing either one or both of their daughters.
The biggest medical issue facing Kendra and Maliyah was their shared kidney.
According to statistics, only 75 percent of surgical separations result is at least one twin surviving.
But Kendra and Maliyah Herrin have been defying odds their entire lives.
After several tests and screenings, doctors decided that a possible surgery would involve Kendra retaining the kidney, and Maliyah needing a transplant.
However, kidney transplants are typically impossible in infants, Kendra and Maliyah would need to wait until they were four-years-old to undergo surgery if doctors wanted to go down that route.
After a lot of thinking, Erin and Jake agreed to go through with the operation. All they had do do after that was wait until their daughters were old enough.
On August 7, 2006, six experienced surgeons worked together on the Kendra and Maliyah’s separation surgery.
Thank god, both twins were able to pull through following their long and grueling operations.
Once the girls were stabilized, Jake and Erin turned to the public, who had been closely following the Herrin’s dramatic story.
“Everything is going as well as we could hope and pray for. Prayers are working,” said Jake.
“They’ve given us courage we didn’t realize 4-year-olds could possess”, Erin added.
Kendra and Maliyah were the first set of conjoined twins to be separated to share a kidney.
But even though the surgery was successful, the twins still had a long road of rehabilitation ahead of them. For example, both twins needed to have their bandages changed three times a week.
Putting on new bandages and tanking off the old ones took two hours for each sister. Because each sister was left with one leg after surgery, they needed to learn how to move from scratch.
Also, Maliyah required special care and three dialysis sessions per week.
Soon, however, everyone realized that the twins’ miraculous recovery story was something out of the ordinary.
When Erin was told Maliyah needed a new kidney, she did not hesitate for one second.
Even though Erin’s kidney was a match, there was no way of knowing for sure if Maliyah’s body would accept it. But it was!
The Herrin sisters are now 17 years old and living in Salt Lake City. They have one leg each and are still grateful to their parents for deciding to go through with the risky separation surgery.
While Kendra and Maliyah certainly enjoyed their new lives as separate individuals, to this day, they still share a close bond as sisters.
“The girls were happy to be independent at last, but sometimes I’d find them playing and walking around the house on crutches, sometimes holding on to one another like they were still conjoined,” said Erin.
Unfortunately, In 2015, Maliyah’s body began rejecting the kidney which her mother donated. Her first kidney transplant was at age 5, the kidney lasted for 10 years before it started rejection.
This was of course a devastating blow to the Herrin family, but once again they showed their strength positivity.
And finally, in April 2018, the Herrins posted some big news – they had officially found an anonymous donor!
Recently, an antibody test was performed on her new kidney – and there are no signs of rejection whatsoever! No antibodies are trying to attack the new kidney so hopefully everything will be fine this time!
Through all of their hardships, Kendra and Maliyah have managed to thrive thanks to their positive attitudes. Whether it was learning to crawl as babies, surviving an incredibly risky separation surgery, or learning how to walk after the operation, the girls have shown how tough they really are!
What amazing young girls you are! Your parents must be so proud you are an inspiration to everyone!
Share their story if you also are impressed by the Herrins!