The Complicated Lives of Conjoined Twins
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Karen found out that she was pregnant with conjoined twins when she was 8 weeks along and was forced to make a difficult decision.
After her community shunned her, sent her hate mail and some even told her to abort her babies, she decided to keep them. "It was more important for me to give them that chance than to take it away from them," Karen says.
The twins shared one set of hips, their spine was slightly fused, they each had one kidney, shared one bladder, one set of bowels and only 2 legs for the both of them. When they were just 8 months old, the twins were separated in a 12-hour surgery. When they turned 13, they both got very sick from the mesh in their stomachs and were hospitalized. Gabrielle's surgery was successful, but her sister just got sicker and she passed away.
Now, Gabrielle is in college, but she is experiencing a slew of health issues. Due to not having a bladder, she is forced to use a catheter to clear the urine from her kidney. She is also experiencing urinary tract infections and painful kidney stones, which she is unable to pass.
"I don't feel good 90 percent of the time," she says. Additionally, the terrain of her college is challenging as it is filled with hills and she uses a wheelchair. Despite her challenges, she says she faces the world each day to honor the memory of her sister.
The Doctors also welcome urologist Dr. Sia Daneshman to help weigh in on Gabrielle's health. He says it may be possible to construct a new bladder, which would possibly change her life.
We surprise Gabrielle with therapy from Doctor On Demand and a new laptop from HP for her college work. Our friends at EZ Lite Cruiser are gifting her with a new custom electric wheelchair. And in our biggest surprise, Dr. Daneshman offers Gabrielle reconstructive work and to build her a new bladder at no cost to her.
An emotional Gabrielle tells The Doctors, "I never thought I would ever get any answers... I just thought I would have to live like this forever. When I wrote in [to the show] I didn't even expect to hear anything back... these are happy tears... thank you."
Doctor On Demand was created by The Doctors' executive producer, Jay McGraw.