Renee Young is 19 weeks pregnant. Like any expectant parents, Young and her husband Simon Howie are both excited and nervous about what’s to come.
But unlike other soon-to-be parents, they will face an extra obstacle when their twin baby girls are delivered in July.
Four weeks ago, a routine ultrasound revealed that Young and Howie’s baby had two legs, two arms and one heart just like any other baby. But the scan also revealed that their baby also had two faces and two brains.
Young and Howie’s baby girl is reportedly suffering from a duplication called raniofacial hyperhidrosis (or diprosopus) of which there have only ever been 35 cases recorded world wide.
Speaking with Tracey Grimshaw from Channel 9’s A Current Affair last night, Young and Howie said they were shocked and confused when the doctor told them the news.
“I wasn’t sure how to take in what he was explaining to me,” Howie said.
At the moment, the baby is growing healthily. Its heart beat is “beautiful” and its vital signs strong. But there are no other people in the world who are currently living with this malformation.
Doctors initially advised the couple to abort the pregnancy “because (the baby) would be looked upon by the public as a freak”.
They told the couple that it would be hard for the community to accept the child as “normal” and that the duplication could affect the girl’s ability to go to school and make friends.
However Howie and Young have decided to go through with the pregnancy. The baby was healthy and that for them was enough. “At the end of the day it’s our decision,” Howie said.
“It’d be the same as being a child with autism or down syndrome … I don’t believe in terminating the baby if it’s healthy and growing fine, and everything is going to plan.”
The last known case of diprosopus was recorded in an Indian baby who was born – and died – in 2008.