Life is full of risks, and sometimes, the risks are unavoidable. Ever since the day Elysse and Eric Mata found out their twins were conjoined, the couple were forced to make tough decisions. As they faced the ordeal with courage and faith, they were blessed with miracles as the twins survived against the odds.
Knatalye and Adeline Mata, from a family based in Lubbock, Texas, have interesting middle names: “Hope” and “Faith.” The names were given for them in hope of their survival—through birth, a separation surgery, and many other trials.
Happy one year separation anniversary to these beauties!
During Elysse’s very first ultrasound in 2013, the Mata couple were surprised when they found out they were expecting twins, but what the doctor told them next shocked them even more.
“Then, [the doctor] said, ‘But we think they’re conjoined.’ And my heart sunk in that moment and I just froze … I was like, ‘this can’t be real.’” Elysse recalled.
Knowing the dangers of the condition, the doctors suggested abortion. However, for Elysse, that was never going to happen.
“I told him, ‘I don’t care what the case is, I’m going to go as long as I can, and if God decides that he needs them more, then so be it,’” Elysse said to ABC News.
The twins were conjoined from chest to pelvis, sharing internal organs including lungs, liver, and intestines.
Fortunately, the girls have independent hearts. On the other hand, the survival rate for conjoined twins is exceptionally low—while about 200,000 conjoined twins who are born every year, 60 percent of them are stillborn, and 35 percent doesn’t survive past the first day.
On April 11, the twin girls were born nine weeks premature at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Not only were the twins alive, they also lived past their first day.
“It was heaven on earth, just to be able to hold them so close to me,” Elysse said. “Everybody talks about when they see their baby, they don’t count their toes, they just see a baby… I just saw two miracle angels laying there, peacefully sleeping.”
For nearly an entire year, Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith stayed in the newborn intensive care unit of the Texas Children’s Hospital. To stay close to the infants, the Mata couple and their 5-year-old son, Azariah, packed up and moved into an RV that is parked near the hospital.
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When the girls reached 10 months old, the doctors believed it was a good time for separation surgery, however, it was very risky.
“Separating conjoined twins is a very complicated task and there are lots of risks involved, and death is absolutely one of those risks,” Dr. Darrell Cass, who led a group of medical professionals to prepare for the surgery for months, said to ABC News.
Despite all the risks involved, the Mata couple agreed for the surgery to be performed.
“I want to give them a shot at a normal life as much as possible,” Elysse Mata said. “I feel like they’ve come this far, why hold back? Why not follow through? Why not give them that chance?”
For 26 hours, a team of 12 surgeons, 6 anesthesiologists, and 8 surgical nurses operated on the two 10-month-olds at Texas Children’s Hospital.
The surgery was a success. On Feb. 17, the twins were finally separated.
It was the first successful separation surgery of its kind, making it a victory not just for the Mata family, but for the medical field.
“We are so grateful to all of the surgeons and everyone who cared for our daughters and gave them the incredible chance to live separate lives,” Elysse said to PIX 11. “We also want to express our gratitude to all of the people that have prayed and provided support to our family over the last 10 months.”
After the surgery, Knatalye Hope recovered first and was discharged in May 2015. Faith required additional care, so she came home one month later, in June. Although they were discharged, the twins still needed additional treatment, therapy, and even surgery.
A Facebook page, Helping Faith & Hope Mata, was first created in July 2014 to help the twins. The family continued to update the twin’s progress as they grow up, thriving in their lives.
Despite their incredible beginning, the twins have grown to be different from each other.
“They’re just branching out and growing into individuals and separate personalities.” Elysse told Today.
“Knatalye is our smiley, happy, our wild child, and Addy’s more calm and quiet,” Elysse described to Today. “She’s just more laid back.”
“I’m just excited about the next years and what they’re going to do. Hopefully, they do big things in life,” Elysse said.
Hey guys we are celebrating the girls 1 YEAR SEPARAVERSARY! Thank you all so so much for your prayers and support,it means the world to us! We thank God every day for giving us these miracles!