Are you attached to a brother or sister? They were!
Are you attached to a brother or sister? They were! Dr. Kevin Lally, center, with Emily, left, and Caitlin Copeland, right, in Houston. The girls appear at age 7, below left
Are you attached to a brother or sister? They were!
Lexile: 850L

Assign to Google Classroom

For a set of Texas twins, being joined at the hip is not just a cliche. That was basically the first 10 months of their life.

On Tuesday, Emily and Caitlin Copeland, who were born conjoined at the liver, celebrate their 18th birthday. They enjoyed the success of a separation surgery that has allowed them to lead normal lives. Now they are graduating as co-valedictorians from Lutheran High North in Houston. Valedictorians are the top students in each graduation class.

"I think for anyone it's exciting to get to 18," Caitlin said. "But in particular for us, I think it's just a really big blessing that we got to 18.''

Crystal Copeland, the twins' mother, nods. She will never forget the day she learned she was pregnant with conjoined twins. occurs once in every 200,000 live births. Between 40 percent and 60 percent are stillborn, and some 35 percent survive one day.

And in late 1996, surgery and imaging were not as advanced.

It was a Friday when Copeland first spoke to Dr. Kevin Lally, surgeon in chief at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. He promised to provide an honest assessment of the chances for survival.

The babies were kicking. Copeland had seen them in an ultrasound. To her, they were alive and well. That weekend, she said, was the hardest in her life.

On Monday, the Copelands got the best news they could have hoped for.

"They were joined at the liver, not at the heart, which would have been, you know, fatal," Copeland said. "He thought there were good opportunities for separation where they would both be able to live basically normal lives."

One twin was born with a blocked intestine. Surgery had to be conducted when they were just 2 days old. Doctors decided to wait 10 months for them to get bigger for the separation surgery.

Critical thinking challenge: What difference did it make that the girls were joined at the liver and not the heart?

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 13 times

  • ma6fc
    6/11/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    They are very lucky that they were able to live and make it to the age they did. They didnt let their story get in the way of them living their life.

  • ksnow420
    6/11/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    I saw this on the news like 2 days ago. I thought it was a miracle that the 2 twins were conjoined at the liver then got separated. If me and my sister were conjoined my parents would try to get us not to be conjoined . From what i here they both like different things. One likes sports and the other one likes staying inside. I like staying inside to because i like playing video games. I think that in the future these two twins will look back to their parents and doctors and say Thank you for everything you have done.

  • RA3josethemexican
    6/11/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    It made a big difference because if they were joined at the heart they would have a higher percent chance that they dieing were going to die .

  • ah07pink
    6/11/2014 - 08:47 a.m.

    I never heard of people actually in real life being attached together how is that possible? But atleast they got the surgery and can live normal lives that's the good thing .

  • Chad5515
    6/11/2014 - 10:56 a.m.

    They could be physically joined at the heart or they could be mentally joined at the heart. Being joined at the liver for some time would be pretty attaching. You would have to get used to your brother and or sister more than you normally would. Learn every last thing about them and then you two would be very close... litteraly.

  • aj5alissa
    6/11/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    That is amazing that they survived. I would be so thankful towards the doctors if they were able to do that and help me live a better life and have a better life to look forwards too.

  • GVA1pizza
    6/11/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    i find that really nice how close two sisters can be, especially twins. I find it really nice, and because ussually sibling do not get along with eachother these days

  • Ak28cheetah
    6/11/2014 - 01:06 p.m.

    Umm....I never heard of such a thing. Being attached to a sibling, it must be hard and annoying. If that was me and my sister, we would've probably killed each other by now. It's difficult to imagine how these two cooperated so well and created a strong bond with each other.

  • jh09013smiles
    6/12/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    I do not know how to respond to this. Who names their kid Awesome, it's an adjective. It's original, that's like naming your kid a character from a tv show. I don't know how anyone could do it. I know that I don't want my name to be Awesome, I'd change it the day I turn eighteen.

    6/12/2014 - 12:56 p.m.

    I think the sisters both got lucky because if they never had that much attention to be separated then, i don't think neither of them would be alive. I only say that because recent things i have seen of brothers and sisters being attached is that doctors cannot separate them. So, then they don't get what they need in time to stay alive.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment