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Joy and Joya - Two Girls: One Heart
(Source – KMBC News Kansas City, MO, September 2007)
Conjoined twins share a heart and a liver, and their mother is fighting for their survival. The twins were born at Saint Luke's Hospital Monday night. The family's doctor said the baby girls, Joy and Joya, are not candidates for separation or to receive donated organs.
"And they're miracles because they weren't supposed to live, and they are," mother Jacqueline Hemphill told KMBC's Maria Antonia.
Hemphill said she wanted a chance to hold her babies.
"I was already attached to them at five months," she said. When her doctor told her that her baby girls would not survive past 18 months, she decided to go through with the pregnancy anyway.
"I believe I owed them a chance to live, so that's what I decided to do," Hemphill said. "I just gave them a chance to live, and they did."
Hemphill said her family is very supportive, and she is also getting help from Alexandra's House, which is a hospice agency that helps parents with babies who are unlikely to survive.
"I kept asking God to save one of them, make a miracle," Hemphill said. "I don't know how long they'll live or how long they won't, but I'm just going to spend every moment I can with them. They won't just pass away here -- they'll still be living up in heaven, so I'll see them another day.
(Days later). -- Conjoined twins born earlier this week to Jackie Hemphill left the hospital Friday for a special hospice in Westport.
The babies are staying at Alexandra's House, which is a hospice and infant rescue.
The babies, named Joy and Joya, slept wrapped in each other’s arms as their Aunt Benita held them. "I just love them to death. I can't help but just love them," Benita said.
Hemphill said she never imagined this would happen. Doctors did not expect the babies to live. "I don't know how long they'll live, how long they won't, but I'm just going to spend every moment I can with them," Hemphill said.
The girls share a liver and a heart. Hemphill said she prepared herself for the worst but is encouraged by some signs. "No feeding tubes. No nothing. They're eating like normal babies. They're just beautiful," Hemphill said.
Doctors said that the girls are unlikely to survive separated or with donated organs. Hemphill said she is not giving up. "I just hope I can spend every minute with them. Maybe later down the line, six months from now, they'll get re-evaluated and everything works out for the best, and I can save at least one," Hemphill said.
Hemphill said that she does not understand why this happened, but she is not questioning it. "When God made them, he doesn't make mistakes. He knew exactly what He was doing. We just don't know why," Hemphill said.
Hemphill said she did not buy things to take the babies home because she thought it would be harder to live with that. She said she believes Alexandra's House is the best place for all of them to stay.