Kendra and Maliyah Herrin were born connected at the abdomen, sharing a kidney and two legs. Their parents had to make a tough decision to separate them. This decision marked the beginning of a challenging journey for the twins. How did they survive the separation? Did their lives change forever?
Attached at the Abdomen, Twins Kendra and Maliyah Were Born in 2002
In a Salt Lake City hospital, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin were born as conjoined twins, connected at the abdomen. They faced a rare condition, sharing a pelvis, a kidney, and a liver. Against the odds, the twins not only survived birth but also made it out of the womb. The doctors had initially given a grim prognosis, cautioning the parents about the slim chances of the twins’ survival.
They Were Not Expected to Live Past 24 Hours
Of every 200,000 live births, only one results in conjoined twins, and many don’t survive. Yet, the Herrin twins made it through their first night, which increased their chances of survival. Despite the joy of their parents, the twins’ shared vital organs meant that the doctors predicted they wouldn’t make it past 24 hours. As the days went by, Kendra and Maliyah proved the medical experts wrong, but their parents soon faced an excruciating choice.
The Ultimate Decision Had to Be Made
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, conjoined twins, spent their early years inseparable, sharing every moment together. As time passed, the medical complications arising from their shared organs became increasingly severe. Faced with an impossible decision, parents Jake and Erin had to weigh the risks. Should they keep their daughters joined for life, potentially regretting the choice later? Or should they take the daunting step of separating the twins through a risky procedure? It was a frightening situation for the parents to navigate.
Their Parents Were Conflicted on What to Do
Conjoined twins are a rare occurrence, and deciding whether to separate them is a challenging choice for any family. Despite medical advancements, the Herrin family faced difficulties in assessing the risks and benefits of surgery for their four-year-old twins, Kendra and Maliyah. Numerous consultations with medical professionals and psychologists left the family searching for answers. However, one thing made the decision a bit clearer – the realization that they couldn’t live their entire lives conjoined.
Separating the Twins Could Be Fatal
The decision to separate conjoined twins is intricate and risky, and for Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, who shared multiple organs, it posed an even greater challenge. The girls had a shared kidney, a condition that posed a significant threat to their lives. Kendra openly discussed the risks on the twins’ YouTube channel, highlighting the danger of relying on one kidney for both of them. Despite these challenges, the Herrin family recognized that separating the girls was essential for their long-term health and independence.
How Do You Explain to Little Kids That They Are About to Be Cut Apart
The Herrin twins, still toddlers, faced the challenge of understanding that they would undergo surgery to be separated. Maliyah and Kendra, being very young, struggled to grasp the full scope of the procedure and its risks due to their small size. On their YouTube channel, Kendra recounted how their parents reassured them, framing the surgery as “cut-apart day” and assuring the girls that everything would be alright.
Preparing for the Life-Altering Surgery
Prior to the life-changing surgery, the Herrin twins’ parents aimed to prepare their daughters as much as possible. The girls had their own playroom, complete with dolls and even nurse badges. The hospital staff and their parents worked hard to create a comfortable environment for them. Despite these efforts, the ultimate outcome of the surgery remained unknown until the day it occurred.
Their Skin Had to Be Stretched Every Week
In addition to the significant mental preparation, the medical preparations for the surgery were equally intense. Since the girls shared bodies, including skin, the medical team needed to ensure their bodies could handle the separation. The twins explained, “Every week, we would get tissue expanders, which were like little balloons placed under the skin. This was to stretch the skin so that we would have enough for the closure after the separation.” This process was crucial to make sure there was enough skin to cover both girls after the surgery.
Getting Ready for the Worst-Case Scenario
Faced with the daunting prospect of their conjoined twins’ surgery, the parents responded with an outpouring of love and quality family time. Kendra shared that the week leading up to the operation was the best they’d ever had. The family enjoyed fun outings to the zoo and the pool, aiming to create lasting memories in case the worst happened. It was a poignant effort to ensure cherished moments together before the challenging surgery.
Surgery Day Arrived and Everyone Was Nervous
A week before their surgery, the girls were brought to the hospital to get accustomed to their surroundings, and for the medical team to familiarize themselves with them. As the days passed, the family couldn’t escape the overwhelming anxiety and fear. Finally, the day arrived – “Cut Apart Day.” Emotions ran high as the twins were wheeled toward the surgery room. Tears flowed freely as the family braced themselves for the challenging and uncertain journey that lay ahead.
It Was Finally Time for the Girls to Be Separated
Facing the challenging prospect of their twins undergoing a traumatic surgery, the Herrin parents grappled with how to prepare them. In a heartwarming approach, they organized a scavenger hunt around the hospital, leading the girls to the operating room. Kendra shared this story on the twins’ YouTube channel, explaining that the girls had no idea what was happening until they reached the final number and were then whisked away into surgery. It was a creative and compassionate way to navigate a difficult situation.
A Tough 26 Hours Later
During the surgery, the girls felt like it only took an hour, but in reality, it lasted an excruciating 26 hours. A team of six skilled surgeons and 25 support staff worked tirelessly to separate the twins at the torso, leaving each with one leg. The post-surgery period was equally challenging, with the girls needing to spend three months in the hospital to ensure a successful outcome and long-term health. It was a demanding journey that required both medical expertise and resilience from Kendra and Maliyah.
Their Story Was Making News and People Were Sending Them Fan Mail
The story of the Herrin twins resonated with people in Salt Lake City and beyond, evoking a strong emotional response whether they knew the girls personally or had been following their journey. Maliyah shared, “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, they were welcomed home with a joyous celebration. The community’s support and encouragement added a heartwarming touch to the challenging and inspiring tale of Kendra and Maliyah Herrin.
Maliyah Was Left Without a Kidney
Due to having only one shared kidney, the medical team faced a tough decision. Kendra received the kidney, while Maliyah had to undergo dialysis for nine months until her mother donated her kidney. Things seemed to be going well for years until, unexpectedly, a decade later, Maliyah’s body started rejecting her mom’s kidney. She had to return to dialysis, and the future once again looked uncertain. The medical challenges continued to pose hurdles in the twins’ journey.
An Anonymous Kidney Donor Saved Maliyah’s Life
Maliyah faced another 18 months of dialysis while also being on a waitlist for organ donations. Despite the challenges, she remained positive and resilient. Erin Herrin, her mother, expressed admiration for Maliyah, highlighting how she coped with the loss of friends who were also undergoing dialysis. After a prolonged wait, a generous anonymous donor came forward, providing a kidney that allowed Maliyah to finally stop dialysis and have another shot at life. It was a significant and hopeful turn in the twins’ challenging medical journey.
Maliyah Undergoes Another Kidney Transplant
Maliyah’s family was deeply concerned for her, unsure of how she would navigate this new challenge. Initially left without a kidney, Maliyah received one from her mom, which served her well for ten years before it eventually failed. Now facing the need for another kidney transplant, she hoped for a smooth process without complications. However, the road ahead proved to be challenging, as the difficulties in her medical journey persisted. The family faced uncertainties about what lay ahead for Maliyah.
Getting Used to Being Your Own Person Felt Weird
The bond of being conjoined to someone else is unlike any other, but for Kendra and Maliyah, it felt just plain weird. They express gratitude that their parents made the tough decision to separate them through a life-changing surgery. Despite the risks, the procedure was ultimately successful, and they now find joy in their separate lives. Acknowledging their distinct personalities, the twins admit that if they had remained connected, they would have likely fought all the time.
High School Was a Time They Finally Felt Independent
Growing up and reaching adolescence wasn’t a guaranteed outcome for Kendra and Maliyah, and their parents were uncertain if it would ever happen. However, defying the odds, the girls not only stayed healthy but also entered high school, gaining a newfound sense of freedom and independence. Each day, they woke up, got ready, and headed off to school with the assistance of a friend. They navigated their studies, moved around the school, and even returned home to make dinner on their own. It was a remarkable journey from a challenging beginning to embracing everyday teenage experiences.
Getting Around on Their Own Was Expected to Be Difficult
Embracing independence meant finding creative solutions for mobility in and around their homes. The girls’ father came up with an ingenious idea: using doctor’s stools for easy movement within their house. This clever solution made rolling around at home quite simple. However, for longer days outside, they still needed to find an alternative. The twins eventually discovered the perfect solution for navigating the outside world, allowing them to move around with ease and comfort.
Learning to Walk Was the Next Big Feat
Kendra and Maliyah’s P.E. teacher, Donna, had unwavering belief in the girls’ potential, even with their physical limitations. Initially feeling weak, the twins, inspired by Donna’s encouragement, set an ambitious goal for themselves: to walk on crutches by the end of the school year. Overcoming fears and physical challenges, the girls dedicated themselves to achieving this goal. When they finally succeeded, it marked a triumphant moment not just for Kendra and Maliyah but for everyone who had supported them in their journey.
Trying to Make School a Safe Space
Navigating high school can be challenging, but Kendra and Maliyah Herrin have managed to thrive despite the unique hurdles of being formerly conjoined twins. Despite their differences and the use of walkers around school, the girls have had a positive experience and, notably, haven’t faced bullying—a circumstance they feel grateful for. Their optimistic outlook on life has served as an inspiration to many, showcasing that with the right mindset and support system, anything is possible.
Building Meaningful Friendships Despite Adversity
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin have been fortunate to have friends who treat them like any other peers, for which the twins are immensely grateful. Despite their unique physical condition, their friends hardly notice the fact that they have one leg. Instead, they admire the twins for their courage and resilience. One friend, Anabelle, shared that the girls have taught her valuable lessons about facing challenges with grace and bravery. She openly acknowledges that she doesn’t know if she could endure what Kendra and Maliyah have gone through.
Learning to Drive Was the Next Challenge
Learning to drive is often seen as a significant challenge, and for many, it represents the ultimate test of their ability to overcome fears. At the beginning of their lives, their parents had little hope for the future, uncertain about what lay ahead. However, Maliyah and Kendra approached life with an attitude that embraced challenges. They decided to take on the task of learning how to drive. The question loomed: was it possible, and could they succeed?
Maintaining a Positive Outlook Despite Challenges
Despite the many challenges the Herrin twins have faced, their positive attitude toward life remains unshaken. In an interview, they joked, “Having one leg means we only have to paint one set of toenails, so that’s really nice.” Their self-confidence and optimistic outlook serve as an inspiration, even to their own mother, who expressed, “The self-esteem that they have blows me away. Lots of people could learn a lot of things from them.” The twins’ resilience and humor highlight the power of a positive mindset in overcoming life’s obstacles.
Advocating for the Inclusion of Individuals With Disabilities
The Herrin twins have evolved beyond being viral sensations; they’ve become advocates for those with disabilities. Utilizing their newfound platform, the twins use their voices to champion inclusion and understanding. They encourage open conversations and questions about their experiences, emphasizing the importance of respect. “Don’t be afraid to talk to someone,” Kendra said. “But be respectful about it.” Navigating the challenges of people staring and the logistics of getting around isn’t always easy, but the twins handle it with grace. Their advocacy promotes a more empathetic and inclusive perspective on disabilities.
Reaching Milestones Their Parents Didn’t Know They’d Make
In 2022, the Herrin twins achieved a milestone that might have seemed improbable early in their lives: they turned 20 years old and were living independently. Kendra worked as a cashier at a grocery store and had already earned a phlebotomy certification by the age of 18. On the other hand, Maliyah recently graduated from Davis Technical College with a degree in digital media and aspires to begin a career in graphic design. Despite the challenges they faced, the twins continue to pursue their dreams and carve out individual paths for themselves.
They May Have Had One Body but They Have Two Completely Different Personalities
Despite being twins who were once conjoined, the Herrin sisters are convinced they look nothing alike and couldn’t be more different. It’s natural that one sister is more outgoing and extroverted, while the other is more introverted. However, these differences don’t hinder their friendship and the time they spend together. They express gratitude for being separated, acknowledging that it would have been challenging to live lives with very different interests if they had remained conjoined. The separation allowed them the freedom to pursue their individual passions and personalities.
Life Isn’t Easy All the Time for Maliyah and Kendra
Maliyah and Kendra have triumphed over remarkable challenges and are embracing life to the fullest. However, like most aspects of life, it’s not always smooth sailing. Their health condition serves as a constant reminder of life’s fragility. The possibility of finding themselves back in the hospital, fighting for their lives, looms over them at any moment. This reality hit hard when Kendra, set to start school, faced a significant infection, highlighting the ongoing and unpredictable nature of their health journey.
They Started a YouTube Channel as an Outlet for Their Experience
The influence of social media is undeniable, and Kendra and Maliyah Herrin have personally felt its impact. Their YouTube channel serves as a platform not only to express their personalities but also to share their inspirational story with a global audience. They appreciate the opportunity to bring smiles to people’s faces and reveal a playful side of themselves that may not be immediately apparent or known from first impressions. The power of social media has allowed them to connect with and inspire people in ways they might not have imagined.
Social Media Has Brought Them the Confidence They Never Thought They’d Have
Kendra and Maliyah have made significant progress since the inception of their YouTube channel, and it’s not just their confidence that has seen improvement. Their videos have had a profound impact on people’s lives globally. Originally uncertain about being in front of a camera, the twins now can’t imagine their lives without it. Through their videos, their positive outlook and humor shine, making them a source of inspiration to many. The journey they share has not only shaped their own lives but has resonated with and positively influenced audiences around the world.
Not Surviving but Thriving Against All Odds
The Herrin twins have triumphed over formidable challenges in their lives, yet their journey has not been devoid of darkness and uncertainty. Despite their unyielding positivity, it’s natural to ponder about the challenges that may still await them. Will their health remain stable? Will they continue to encounter discrimination and hurdles in a world that isn’t always accommodating to those with disabilities? The future for Kendra and Maliyah remains uncertain, and only time will reveal the paths that lie ahead for them.
From Unlikely Survival to Graduating School
Against all odds, the Herrin twins were initially given a slim chance of survival at birth. However, today, they have defied expectations and conquered challenges that many would find insurmountable. From their early years as conjoined twins to their current status as healthy and thriving young adults, their journey has been nothing short of inspirational. Graduating from school, a milestone once considered impossible, is just one testament to their resilience. The Herrin twins continue to defy expectations and break barriers, showcasing the remarkable strength of the human spirit.
Overcoming Struggles to Party and Enjoy Life
Given only 24 hours to live by doctors, the Herrin twins have defied all odds and are thriving in their twenties. Despite the numerous challenges they’ve encountered, their lives are filled with joy and fun. They make time to hang out with friends, attend school dances, and create unforgettable memories. Both work full-time jobs and have even attended work parties with their co-workers. Despite their disabilities, they lead a fulfilling and enjoyable life, a reality that once seemed impossible in the face of their early medical prognosis.
They Made It to Their Twenties
Entering their twenties marks a significant milestone for Maliyah and Kendra. After more than a decade of being separated, enduring numerous surgeries, and undergoing kidney transplants, they are now ready to face the challenges that come with this new chapter in life. Navigating through the complexities of one’s twenties is no small feat, but given their resilience and the hurdles they’ve overcome, Maliyah and Kendra have already demonstrated their ability to handle whatever new challenges this phase of life may bring.
They Refuse to Let Anything Stand in Their Way
Maliyah and Kendra consistently demonstrate that there’s nothing they can’t overcome. Despite numerous challenges, they’ve persevered, finding ways to embrace life fully. While some may assume that their health condition limits them—whether it’s walking, driving, or swimming—Maliyah and Kendra refuse to let external expectations dictate their capabilities. Their lives have been marked by both highs and lows, yet they persistently refuse to let obstacles hinder their pursuit of a fulfilling and meaningful life.