An 18-year-old woman who defied medical advice to have a termination early in her pregnancy is preparing to become Britain's youngest-ever mother to conjoined twins.
Laura Williams and husband Aled, 28, decided that despite the risks they would not abort their conjoined daughters, who are due to be delivered by Caesarean section later this week. They have named the girls Faith and Hope.
The teenager from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, who has an 18-month-old daughter, is being cared for at Birmingham Women's Hospital but will be transferred to a leading London medical centre where she will have the surgery. Her daughters are joined from the breastbone to the top of the navel and have separate hearts.
Mr Williams said: "Because every case is so different, they don't like to give you odds on what might happen, but they have said that because of where they're joined, there's more chance of them surviving than not surviving. If the join is just the stomach, there's a good chance of success."
He added: "We can't speak to anyone about what we are going through. There's no one our age we can talk to. I spoke to a professor in America and he couldn't believe that Laura has conjoined twins at only 18. He said that had never happened before."
The couple met two years ago and have been married for two months.
Mrs Williams, who is 35 weeks pregnant, discovered she was carrying conjoined twins while undergoing her routine 12-week scan. The couple were denied photographs of the babies after the first scan because their doctor felt that the images would prove too shocking.
Only about 5 per cent of conjoined twins survive the first 24 hours and Mrs Williams was told that even if the babies were lucky enough to live beyond two weeks, the birth could cause such complications that she might never have any more children.
The couple were distraught but after seeking a second medical opinion and having successfully reached 14 weeks, decided to continue with the pregnancy.
Mrs Williams conceded: "Sometimes I think about the worst so I'm prepared for it, but if it works out well, I'll be really happy. If they're meant to be in this world and come this far, we've got to hope they'll make it the rest of the way." At 27 weeks, Mrs Williams was put under the care of a hospital specialising in high-risk pregnancies and has had no complications. The Caesarean operation has been scheduled for five weeks short of the usual term because doctors believe the babies are mature enough to survive but not so big that they will cause their mother undue stress.
"It feels like a normal pregnancy," Mrs Williams said. "The babies are [in a position for a] breech [birth]. Sometimes I can feel where their heads are and I feel them turning. They kick like crazy because this one moves, then the other has to move. They're wrigglers."Reuse content