AURORA, Colo. — An expectant mother of conjoined twins in Colorado has been told by doctors one of her babies won't survive, but she's hopeful one can be saved.
Amber McCullough, of Hastings, Minnesota, was scheduled to have a C-section to deliver twin girls at the Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children's Hospital Colorado, but there was no word Wednesday night on whether the surgery had been performed.
Before her surgery, McCullough told KUSA-TV (http://tinyurl.com/ov7k3za ) she wants to give at least one of her daughters a chance at life.
"I just can't lose both," she said. "There's a chance of saving one."
The twins, Hannah and Olivia, share an abdomen, liver and intestinal tract. The girls have separate hearts and kidneys.
McCullough told the television station Olivia is not expected to survive because of her heart. She only has a single ventricle and is missing valves.
Doctors said it could take up to 12 hours to separate the twins.
Conjoined twins happen once every 200,000 live births, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, which says between 40 to 60 per cent arrive stillborn.
McCullough said she wants to see both her daughters after their birth, even if it's for a short time.
"I will get to see my girls very briefly after the delivery," McCullough said. "They will need to be intubated right away, but the doctors will hold them up real quick and I'll get a peek."
McCullough said she spent eight years in the U.S. Army, then went to law school and is now an attorney. She has a 6-year-old son named Tristan from a previous relationship that ended in divorce. She said her son is moving to Denver to be with her soon.
She became pregnant with her girls during another relationship, and it wasn't until her second trimester when she learned she was carrying conjoined twins. The relationship with the girls' dad ended shortly thereafter.
McCullough has lived at the Ronald McDonald House in Aurora since early August. Her stepmother is there, keeping her company and caring for her.
Before she moved to Denver, McCullough's friends organized a "prayer shower" and they gave her keepsakes that honour the girls' lives.
"If I had my way, I'd keep them together if they both could live," McCullough told KUSA-TV. "But it's not possible. I wish it were. If they stay together, they'll both pass."
Information from: KUSA-TV, http://www.9news.com
The Associated Press