When Andrew Donovan Lee and Garrett Lee Donovan Stancombe were born on April 10, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, doctors didn’t know if, or for how long, the boys would survive.
Andrew and Garrett are not like other newborn twins. They are conjoined twins, who are attached from the breastbone to the waist. They share a heart and a liver, but shockingly are otherwise healthy.
“They’re not on any machines or anything. They’re on their own strength,” said the boy’s father, Kody Stancombe. Kody explained that they are breathing on their own and doing the things that normal newborns do; crying, sleeping, and eating.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, conjoined twins have an estimated five to twenty-five percent chance of survival. The chance of survival is even lower when they undergo the operation to be separated, which is why Kody and his wife Michelle Van Horne have decided not to separate them.
“I’m thankful they were able to survive this long, and they’re still going strong,” Kody said. “It would hurt us to lose one and have the other,” Michelle added. “We’ve discussed it and we see the best is to keep them together. They were born together; they can stay together.”
Doctors originally told Michelle that they were not optimistic about the boy’s survival and told her to expect a still birth. However, the boys made it through the pregnancy and delivery, and are currently doing well.
Michelle already has one son 23-month-old son Riley, and said that caring for the twins is not much different than caring for any other newborn. “Caring for a newborn is just the same way, a little more difficulties. I just feel like, ‘I know how to do this,'” she explained. “Definitely changing their diapers and bathing them is a two person job, for sure.”
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