This article was originally published on RightLivin
From the very beginning, the conjoined twins, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin shared more than just sisterly bonds – they were born connected at the abdomen, sharing a kidney and two legs. Imagine the hurdles! But what unfolded when their parents were forced to make the unimaginable choice of separation? How did these two brave sisters navigate the challenges, and did their lives ever return to normal?
Their story is a rollercoaster of courage, heartbreak, and hope, revealing the incredible journey of two siblings who defied the odds. Yet, as they triumphed over the impossible, one can’t help but wonder: What was the price they had to pay?
Attached at the Abdomen, Twins Kendra and Maliyah Were Born in 2002
In a Salt Lake City hospital, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin entered the world as conjoined twins, sharing not only their connection at the abdomen but also a pelvis, a kidney, and a liver. The odds were against them, with doctors cautioning their parents about the slim chances of survival.
Miraculously, the twins defied expectations by making it through birth. However, the reality of their condition raised questions about their future. Would they beat the odds, or would their journey be tragically short?
They Were Not Expected to Live Past 24 Hours
Conjoined twins are incredibly rare, with only one in 200,000 live births resulting in this condition. The Herrin twins, Kendra and Maliyah, surpassed the critical first night, increasing their chances of survival. Although joyous for their parents, the shared vital organs led doctors to predict they wouldn’t live beyond 24 hours.
As days passed, the twins continued to defy medical expectations. Still, their parents faced a painful decision. Could Kendra and Maliyah continue to defy the odds, or was their time together limited? How could their parents and doctors navigate this challenging situation?
The Ultimate Decision Had to Be Made
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, conjoined twins, experienced their early years inseparably, sharing every moment of life. Yet, the shared organs brought severe medical complications, complicating their future.
Jake and Erin, their parents, confronted an unimaginable choice: leave the twins joined, risking future regrets, or undergo the perilous process of separation. It was a daunting situation with no perfect solution. Struggling with the decision, the Herrin family braced for an uncertain journey ahead.
Their Parents Were Conflicted on What to Do
Conjoined twins pose unique challenges, and deciding whether to separate them is a complex choice. Despite advancements in medical technology, the Herrin family grappled with the risks and benefits of separating four-year-olds Kendra and Maliyah.
Numerous consultations left them searching for answers, but the realization that the twins couldn’t live conjoined forever made the decision somewhat clearer. The Herrins, with uncertainty looming, took a leap of faith, opting for the risky separation surgery that would alter their daughters’ lives forever.
Separating the Twins Could Be Fatal
For Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, conjoined twins with shared organs, the decision to undergo separation surgery was complex and risky. The girls shared a single kidney, a condition that posed a significant threat to their lives. Kendra openly discussed the risks on their YouTube channel, emphasizing the danger of relying on one kidney for two individuals.
Despite the challenges, the Herrin family recognized that separating the twins was necessary for their long-term health and independence. While not an easy decision, it held the promise of a brighter future for the twins. Or did it?
How Do You Explain to Little Kids That They Are About to Be Cut Apart
When Maliyah and Kendra Herrin were just toddlers, their parents faced the challenging task of explaining to them that they needed surgery to be separated. The concept was difficult for the little girls to grasp due to their young age.
Kendra, sharing on their YouTube channel, mentioned that their parents used the term “cut-apart day” to simplify the explanation. Though a tough conversation, it was just the beginning of a much tougher journey as the girls prepared for the impending separation surgery.
Preparing for the Life-Altering Surgery
Before the life-changing surgery, the Herrin parents wanted their daughters to be emotionally prepared. The girls had their playroom, dolls, and even nurse badges, providing a comforting environment.
The medical outcome remained uncertain until the surgery day. The family aimed to create positive memories leading up to the operation, acknowledging the gravity of the situation and the potential impact on the girls’ lives.
Their Skin Had to Be Stretched Every Week
Physical preparation was as intense as mental readiness. With shared bodies, Maliyah and Kendra had shared skin, requiring a unique preparation process. Tissue expanders, small balloons under the skin, were used weekly to stretch their skin.
The painful procedure aimed to ensure there was enough skin for the eventual separation. Even at their young age, the girls vividly remembered the discomfort, highlighting the challenges they faced despite meticulous preparation.
Getting Ready for the Worst-Case Scenario
Facing the uncertainty of the surgery, the Herrin parents showered their conjoined twins with love and quality family time. The week leading up to the operation became a cherished time with outings to the zoo and the pool, creating lasting memories.
This heartfelt approach aimed to provide comfort and joy in case the worst-case scenario unfolded. Finally, the much-anticipated day arrived, marking a pivotal moment for the family.
Surgery Day Arrived and Everyone Was Nervous
A week before the surgery, the girls acclimated to their hospital room, fostering familiarity. As the family approached “Cut Apart Day,” anxiety and fear loomed large. Tearful goodbyes accompanied the twins as they were wheeled toward the operating room, marking a day that would either say farewell forever or usher in a new chapter for the family.
It Was Finally Time for the Girls to Be Separated
To prepare the twins for the emotionally charged surgery, the Herrin parents organized a heartwarming scavenger hunt within the hospital. The final clue led them to the operating room, where the girls were unaware of what awaited them.
Amidst tearful goodbyes and prayers, the twins were wheeled into the operating room, leaving their family to wait in anticipation.
A Tough 26 Hours Later
The surgery, lasting a grueling 26 hours, aimed to separate the twins at the torso, each with one leg. Post-surgery, the girls faced a daunting three-month hospital stay for a successful recovery.
The Herrin family navigated this challenging time with a strong support network, uncertain of how the healing process would unfold for the girls.
Their Story Was Making News and People Were Sending Them Fan Mail
The Herrin twins’ touching story resonated with many in Salt Lake City and beyond, garnering attention and support. Maliyah revealed, “We got fan mail while we were in the hospital. We still have some of it.”
Throughout their hospital stay, the twins received visits from loved ones, and upon their release, a joyous celebration awaited them. However, for Maliyah, the journey was far from over; another intense chapter was about to unfold.
Maliyah Was Left Without a Kidney
With only one shared kidney, the medical team faced a tough decision. Kendra received the kidney, while Maliyah underwent nine months of dialysis until her mother selflessly donated her kidney. For years, things seemed to progress well until a decade later, when Maliyah’s body rejected her mom’s kidney.
Returning to dialysis, the future became uncertain. It remained unclear how Maliyah’s condition would evolve and the duration of her required treatment, but one thing was evident – she urgently needed another kidney.
An Anonymous Kidney Donor Saved Maliyah’s Life
Enduring another 18 months of dialysis while on an organ donation waitlist, Maliyah maintained her positive and resilient spirit. Erin Herrin, her mother, admired Maliyah’s strength, highlighting how she coped with the loss of friends undergoing dialysis.
After a prolonged wait, an anonymous donor stepped forward, providing Maliyah with a kidney and freeing her from dialysis. Despite the hope for another kidney transplant, uncertainties and risks persisted. Only time would reveal whether her body would accept this kidney.
Maliyah Undergoes Another Kidney Transplant
Maliyah faced a daunting journey with her second kidney transplant, leaving her family anxious about her survival. Initially without a kidney, her mom’s courageous donation provided her with one for a decade before it failed.
Opting for another transplant, Maliyah hoped for a smooth recovery. Challenges emerged post-surgery, with the new kidney malfunctioning, dehydration incidents, and a scare due to an incorrect medication dosage. Despite these hurdles, she persevered, demonstrating remarkable resilience.
Getting Used to Being Your Own Person Felt Weird
For Kendra and Maliyah, the unique bond of being conjoined was anything but ordinary. Grateful for their parents’ decision to separate them through life-changing surgery, they acknowledged the strangeness of adjusting to individuality.
While the separation involved risks, it proved successful, enabling them to lead separate lives and pursue distinct interests. Their diverse personalities might have caused constant clashes if they had stayed connected, making the surgery a transformative and positive turning point in their lives.
High School Was a Time They Finally Felt Independent
Growing up and reaching their teenage years wasn’t a guaranteed outcome for Kendra and Maliyah, considering their complex medical history. However, they defied the odds, entering high school and experiencing newfound freedom and independence.
Navigating daily routines, attending school with the assistance of a friend, studying, and even cooking dinner independently marked significant milestones. Every achievement was a testament to their resilience, surpassing expectations set during their infancy.
Getting Around on Their Own Was Expected to Be Difficult
Independence required creative solutions for mobility within their home and beyond. Using doctor’s stools ingeniously suggested by their father facilitated easy movement within their house.
For outdoor activities like amusement park visits or concerts, electric scooters became their preferred mode of transport. Navigating high school halls called for walkers, showcasing their adaptability in overcoming challenges associated with mobility.
Learning to Walk Was the Next Big Feat
Kendra and Maliyah faced physical limitations but found support in their P.E. teacher, Donna. With her encouragement, they aimed high: to walk on crutches by the school year’s end. Despite initial weakness, the twins worked persistently, conquering fears and weaknesses.
Their triumph came when they walked on crutches and even ascended the school staircase. This achievement marked a significant journey from their starting point.
Trying to Make School a Safe Space
Navigating high school as formerly conjoined twins presented challenges, but Kendra and Maliyah thrived. Despite using walkers and differences, they experienced a positive atmosphere without bullying.
Grateful for this, their optimistic outlook inspired others, proving that with the right mindset and support, anything is possible. Entering high school brought concerns about making friends and participating in activities, but their positive experience defied initial worries.
Building Meaningful Friendships Despite Adversity
Kendra and Maliyah’s friends treated them like any other, overlooking their unique physical condition. Grateful for meaningful friendships, the twins’ courage and resilience impressed their peers.
Anabelle, a friend, acknowledged the lessons learned from the sisters about facing trials with grace and bravery. Despite enduring numerous challenges, a looming obstacle tested the strength of their bond. What is this challenge, and will their bond prevail?
Learning to Drive Was the Next Challenge
Mastering the skill of driving poses a daunting task for many. At the start of their lives, Maliyah and Kendra’s future was uncertain, but their resilient spirit led them to embrace challenges. Determined to learn to drive, they faced the ultimate test of conquering fears.
Their newfound confidence extended beyond driving, empowering them to tackle various challenges both on and off the road. The question remained: could they succeed in this next endeavor?
Maintaining a Positive Outlook Despite Challenges
Despite numerous challenges, the Herrin twins maintain an unshakeable positive attitude toward life. Their humor shines through, exemplified by a lighthearted joke about the convenience of painting one set of toenails.
Their self-confidence and optimism inspire even their mother. However, as they strive to uphold this positivity, they encounter challenges that test their spirits. Will they overcome the barriers in a world that isn’t always accommodating to those with disabilities?
Advocating for the Inclusion of Individuals With Disabilities
Transforming into advocates, the Herrin twins extend beyond being viral sensations, championing the cause of individuals with disabilities. Leveraging their platform, they use their voices to promote inclusion and understanding.
Encouraging open conversations and questions, they navigate the challenges of being stared at with grace. Through their advocacy, they envision a more inclusive and accepting world, demonstrating that despite disabilities, they can accomplish anything.
Reaching Milestones Their Parents Didn’t Know They’d Make
In a surprising turn of events, the Herrin twins celebrated their 20th birthday in 2022, defying expectations and living independently. Kendra, a grocery store cashier, earned a phlebotomy certification at just 18. Meanwhile, Maliyah graduated in digital media from Davis Technical College, aspiring to a career in graphic design.
Despite facing challenges, the twins persist in pursuing their dreams. Yet, the fear of whether they can continue defying the odds or if past struggles will catch up to them looms on the horizon.
They May Have Had One Body but They Have Two Completely Different Personalities
Twins with distinct personalities, Kendra and Maliyah insist they look nothing alike despite once sharing a body. Embracing their differences, one sister leans toward extroversion, while the other is more introverted.
Their gratitude for the separation lies in the freedom to lead lives with diverse interests. As individuals with unique personalities, they cherish the camaraderie, especially in the realm of school where their charisma shines.
Life Isn’t Easy All the Time for Maliyah and Kendra
While Maliyah and Kendra have triumphed over incredible challenges and embrace life to the fullest, it’s crucial to recognize that life isn’t always smooth sailing. Their health condition serves as a constant reminder of life’s fragility.
The possibility of finding themselves back in the hospital, battling for their lives, looms at any moment. A stark reality hit when Kendra faced a severe infection, underwent surgery, and spent days in the hospital. Even though things may seem positive for them, it’s vital to understand that their journey is an ongoing one, with its share of ups and downs.
They Started a YouTube Channel as an Outlet for Their Experience
Harnessing the power of social media, Kendra and Maliyah initiated their YouTube channel, offering a unique outlet for self-expression. Beyond showcasing their personalities, the platform became a means to share their inspirational journey globally.
Through their videos, they aim to bring smiles, revealing a playful side often unseen. The unforeseen impact of creating content on YouTube has significantly influenced their lives, turning out to be an unexpectedly perfect endeavor for them.
Social Media Has Brought Them the Confidence They Never Thought They’d Have
From their initial YouTube days to the present, Kendra and Maliyah’s growth extends beyond newfound confidence. Their videos resonate globally, positively impacting lives. Despite initial hesitations about being in front of a camera, they now consider it an integral part of their lives.
Their positive outlook and humor shine through, serving as inspiration. However, being in the public eye can attract negativity. How do they stay positive amid potential backlash and rude comments?
Not Surviving but Thriving Against All Odds
The Herrin twins, resilient and inspiring, have conquered enormous challenges. Despite their unyielding positivity, uncertainties about future challenges linger. Will their health endure?
Will they navigate discrimination and obstacles in a world not always welcoming to those with disabilities? The future remains uncertain, but the Herrins have already proven themselves as survivors, fighters, and inspirations to all who encounter their remarkable journey.
From Unlikely Survival to Graduating School
The Herrin Conjoined Twins, once facing slim odds of survival at birth, have defied expectations and conquered seemingly insurmountable challenges. Their remarkable journey, from early days as conjoined twins to flourishing young adults, serves as a powerful source of inspiration.
Against all predictions, they not only graduated from school but continue to break barriers and surpass expectations. The Herrin twins embody the strength of perseverance and the resilient spirit of humanity.
Overcoming Struggles to Party and Enjoy Life
Despite doctors initially giving them only 24 hours to live, the Herrin Conjoined Twins are now thriving in their twenties, embracing lives filled with joy and fun. Overcoming numerous challenges, they actively engage in social activities, hanging out with friends, attending school dances, and making unforgettable memories.
Their journey includes full-time jobs and work parties, showcasing a vibrant life that once seemed impossible. As they navigate through newfound possibilities, what could be the next challenge these sisters aim to conquer?
They Made It to Their Twenties
Entering their twenties marks a significant milestone for Maliyah and Kendra. After enduring separations, numerous surgeries, and kidney transplants, they stand ready to face the challenges of this new phase.
While the twenties pose their unique trials, Maliyah and Kendra’s shared experiences and bond could provide the strength needed to navigate through this period. Will their resilience continue to guide them, and what adventures lie ahead? Time will reveal their journey, and we cheer them on every step of the way.
They Refuse to Let Anything Stand in Their Way
Maliyah and Kendra consistently demonstrate an unyielding spirit, proving that there’s nothing beyond their capabilities. Despite facing countless challenges and societal assumptions about their abilities, they have persevered, enjoying life to the fullest. Refusing to let their health condition be a hindrance, they walk, drive, and engage in various activities. Maliyah and Kendra’s lives, marked by ups and downs, serve as a testament to the notion that life is shaped by one’s determination. They have transformed challenges into opportunities, inspiring us all to do the same.