Shared Body, Separate Identities
16 imagesShared Body, Separate Identities Conjoined twins Carmen and Lupita Andrade navigate life with a shared body but separate identities. Theirs is a life lived in tandem. The New Milford, Connecticut residents are among the country's very few sets of conjoined twins. They are attached along their chest walls down to their pelvis where their spines meet. They each have two arms, but only a single leg, with Carmen controlling the right and Lupita, the left. The girls each have a heart, a set of arms, a set of lungs and a stomach, but they share some ribs, a liver, their circulatory system, and their digestive and reproductive systems. Years ago, they spent long hours in physical therapy, learning how to get up off their backs and sit and use their legs together. At the age of 4, they took their first steps, slowly learning how to coordinate their movements. Born in Veracruz, Mexico in 2000, doctors considered separating them, but concluded it couldn't be done safely due to their shared organs. With the help of an organization in Connecticut called Healing the Children, their parents brought the girls to the U.S. as 1-year-old babies to see if they could be separated. The news here wasn't any better. Now, serious medical issues could one day mean delicate surgery or an oxygen tank for Lupita, whose curved spine is cramping her lungs. They graduated from Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury in 2017 where they studied agriscience and now attend community college to study animal science. The twins navigate life with courage, acceptance and grace. Bound together inextricably, they wouldn't have it any other way.