A woman who was born a conjoined twin has given birth to her own child at the same hospital where she was born and separated from her sister 21 years ago.
When Charity Lincoln Gutierrez-Vazquez and her sister Kathleen were born at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in 2000, they were attached from breastbone to pelvis and shared multiple internal organs, according to Today.
At seven months old, the twin sisters underwent a 31-hour surgery to separate them, which required the help of almost 30 doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
On 12 August, Gutierrez-Vazquez returned to the hospital to give birth to her own daughter, Alora, with the new mother telling Today that the experience felt “full circle”.
“It feels like full circle, since my mom had us here and everything,” she said.
In addition to using the same hospital, Gutierrez-Vazquez also relied on the expertise of some of the doctors who operated on her and her sister 21 years ago, including Dr John Waldhausen, a professor of surgery at the UW School of Medicine and chief of pediatric general and thoracic surgery at Seattle Children’s, who she said received one of her first calls after she found out she was pregnant.
“He’s been with me through a lot,” she explained.
According to Dr Waldhausen, when he first found out that Gutierrez-Vazquez was pregnant, he did have some initial concerns, as he wasn’t sure her “uterus was going to allow her to carry a child,” he told Today.
“I didn’t know if her uterus was going to allow her to carry a child,” he explained, adding that he enlisted the help of his colleague Dr Edith Cheng. “I didn’t know if her abdominal wall reconstruction was going to allow her abdomen to expand in such a way that a baby could grow.”
However, both Alora and Gutierrez-Vazquez are doing well after the baby was born via C-section at 34 weeks, according to the outlet, with doctors noting that the infant was taken to the NICU for supplemental oxygen after birth but is healthy.
Of the successful birth, and Gutierrez-Vazquez’s successful pregnancy, Dr Waldhausen also acknowledged that the family’s story had come “full circle”.
“When you’re involved with an operation like that, you’re really hoping that you can create a whole lifetime for somebody,” he said. “And then to see this happening, this really comes full circle, so this is a great day for all of us.”
In a press release from the hospital, Dr Cheng also expressed her happiness over the healthy birth, explaining that she had felt both a “huge responsibility and honour” to deliver the baby.
“It couldn’t have gone any better for Charity and her baby Alora,” she said. “I felt a huge responsibility and honour to deliver Charity’s baby. I learn so much from my patients and this was one of my highlights that will stay with me forever.”
Gutierrez-Vazquez also feels grateful for all the doctors in her life, and all that they have done for her family, with the new mother telling Today she is happy she has a chance to show what they have overcome.
“God’s really blessed me with all the doctors in my life and everything,” she said. “I think it’s important that people see that we’re still doing good, and living the best life we can.”