Manar and Islaam

After her fertility treatments, Egyptian Naglaa Mohamed felt blessed when she found out she was pregnant with twins. However, the pregnancy was difficult, and Naglaa often was left extremely tired and weak. But it wasn't until the delivery the doctors discovered something was terribly wrong. Just minutes after the first baby, Manar, was born, doctors faced serious complications with the remaining twin.

Doctors performed an emergency C-section and quickly learned that the second baby was conjoined…attached at the head!

However, that's not all! The twins had the most unusual birth defect in the world. There are only 10 documented cases in history of craniopagus parasiticus, where one of the conjoined twins fails to fully develop a body. The head of the attached child—later named Islaam—was fully developed with eyes, a nose, mouth and even a brain. It was able to blink and smile but was not able to survive on its own.

"If you look to the babies from the front, you can see quite clearly Manar has her own face, but from the side she's completely attached to her other twin," says Dr. Abla El Alfi, one of the doctors involved in the procedure to detach Islaam from Manar. "Islaam had completely different reactions than Manar. Sometimes Manar was smiling and Islaam was crying. And you can see the different facial reactions of the two babies."
Dr. Abla El Alfi

Manar and Islaam had two different brains but shared a common blood vessel that fed off of Manar's vital organs. Because Islaam was so dependent on Manar's body for survival, Manar suffered severe heart failure six times in the first few months of her life. Keeping Manar alive was a daily struggle.

"Islaam didn't have a heart to survive on," Dr. El Alfi explains. "She was surviving on the heart and lungs of Manar. She was getting nutrition from Manar. She was exchanging gases through Manar's lungs. And she was having blood supplied from Manar's heart."

For 10 months, Manar and Islaam remained in the hospital until Manar's condition became so critical doctors feared she wouldn't survive without a miracle.
Oprah with the team of doctors

Because Islaam was literally sucking the life out of Manar, doctors were forced to perform a radical surgery they had never done. In fact, it had only been attempted once in history, and no child had ever survived it! A team of 14 doctors from Benha Children's Hospital outside of Cairo was assembled to perform the highly complicated surgery. The Benha Children's Hospital is a national government referral center that receives critically ill cases from all over Egypt. The team included Dr. Walid Sharshera, neurosurgeon; Prof. Mohamed Farouk, lead anesthesiologist; Dr. Nassif Hefnawi, lead plastic surgeon; Dr. Abla El Alfi, head of the intensive care team; and Prof. Mohamed Lottfy, lead neurosurgeon.

"It was very risky surgery," Dr. El Alfi says. "The mortality rate is 100 percent because nobody had survived it. We had a lot of meetings and we reviewed all the literature of what had happened in cases like this all over the world."
Prof. Lottfy, Dr. El Alfi and Oprah

The only other time this was attempted was in the Dominican Republic, where doctors operated on 8-week-old Rebecca Martinez who was also born with a parasitic head. Sadly, she did not survive.

After months of preparation, the team of surgeons worked seven hours straight to carefully separate Manar from the undeveloped twin. The most critical part of the operation was the actual separation of the two brains, which took another two hours. If not done properly, Manar would die.
Prof. Lottfy and Dr. El Alfi

Here's the miracle: Manar survived! She is the first baby in the world to ever survive this surgery.

Prof. Lottfy was the first doctor consulted. "The first time when I saw her, I went there and examined [Manar] and when I looked at the eyes, you can see the individual, she's searching for help," he says. "She's saying, 'Help me.' She's searching all over. Then I became emotionally attached to her. And I decided from the first moment to rescue [her]. Then I talked about my decision with Manar's doctors and went, again, to Cairo. I chose my team. I said to them, 'We have a mission to rescue Manar. If you accept this mission, to be devoted at any time to go to Benha, free of charge, we shall go over and rescue Manar. If you accept this, be with me.'"

How was Manar able to survive this miraculous procedure? "She survived for many reasons…she survived six attacks of heart failure. She was really determined and a fighter," Prof. Lottfy explains.
Naglaa and Manar

Manar is now doing so well she was recently able to leave the hospital for the very first time since she was born. And her first trip is all the way from Egypt to The Oprah Winfrey Show!
Taylor and her mother Charlie

Charlie Gill was four months into a very high-risk pregnancy when she began bleeding internally and collapsed on the living room floor. She was home alone with her two young daughters. Her oldest, 5-year-old Taylor, knew her mother was in serious trouble. Taylor picked up the phone and called 911, telling the dispatcher that her mother was "in the living room lying down on the floor," and that "her baby is a boy so…it's been trying to get out."

Taylor's 24-year-old mother was passed out and bleeding to death. But thanks to Taylor's call to 911, medics were soon at the door.

Doctors say that Taylor was a true hero—her mother's internal bleeding put her in critical condition. If Taylor hadn't called 911 when she did, her mother may have lost her life and the life of her unborn baby boy.
Leana and Faith

Leana suffers from epilepsy. Her service dog Faith, a Rottweiler, has been trained to detect changes in Leana's body chemistry to warn her before a seizure hits.

One night, after Leana went to bed, Faith refused to let her sleep.

"She jumped up on the bed and started running in circles," Leana says. "You have to listen to your service dog's instincts so I got out of bed and sat up with her."

Then, Leana went into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate. Moments later, she passed out. Leana hit her head on a cabinet and immediately started having grand mal seizures. Faced with a life-threatening emergency, 4-year-old Faith leapt into action. Faith ran for the phone and brought it to Leana, but when Leana didn't respond, Faith took charge! She went back to the base of the phone and pressed the speed dial for 911—using her nose!

When the 911 operator picked up, Faith replied the only way she knew how—by barking incessantly. "The dog that was barking was very insistent," says operator Jenny Buchanan. "It sounded like it was trying to say that there was some sort of a problem…I checked to see what the address was and we sent officers out to see what the problem was."

After that miracle phone call, Faith then unlocked the front door and laid down next to Leana, keeping her safe until help arrived. Leana was hospitalized for three weeks after her fall; she is now back at home with her life-saving hero!
Sha and Oprah

One night, 17-year-old Laura went to a party and never came home. After days of searching, it seemed that Laura and her car had vanished into thin air. Although they were just acquaintances, classmate Beth Ann was shaken by Laura's disappearance. Seven days after Laura had been reported missing, Beth Ann showed her mother, Sha, a photograph of Laura.

Sha had never met Laura, but later that night, she had a series of vivid and perplexing dreams. "I had a dream about an intersection, " Sha says. "I knew exactly where it was. Which is strange because I had not been there in six to eight months." She went back to sleep and had the same dream two more times.

Then there was a fourth dream. The little rabbit from Alice in Wonderland told Sha, "Keep going, keep going, keep going."

Sha was bothered when she awoke. "All I could think about is the first three dreams and I sat there and …contemplated the whole concept and I decided that as a mother, there's no way that I can go through my day without going [to the intersection] to look," she says. "As crazy as it seems, there's a possibility that that child could be over there."

The next day, Sha and Beth Ann jumped in their car and headed for the location in the dream. When they reached the intersection, they saw nothing. But as they were about to leave, Sha suggested taking a different road. "It was just like something came over my whole body," Sha says. "Just this warm feeling of this is the way that Laura went."

Sha and Beth Ann continued down the unfamiliar, zig-zagging road. "All of a sudden I feel something like my…steering wheel's being pulled to the left," Sha tells Beth Ann. "Almost like something on my whole left side is being pulled."

They stopped the car, and Sha climbed over a concrete wall into a steep and dangerous ravine. After searching and finding nothing, Sha recalled the dream's message: "Keep going."

"And as I'm looking up, I see these trees that have been capped out—just knocked off the tops," recalls Sha, who says it looked as if a car ran straight though.

Suddenly, something caught her eye. That something was a car, and miraculously, after eight days, Laura was inside the car critically injured but still alive.
Sha and Laura

Laura has a special message for Sha and Beth Ann:

"Hi, Beth Ann, Sha and Oprah. I wish I could be there in person but I couldn't get there and there are just a few words of gratitude and thanks that I wanted to say to both Sha and Beth Ann. I am more than grateful for a second chance and Sha gave that opportunity to me. I never even met Sha until the day that she went more than out of her way to save my life. She scaled nearly 200 feet down a ravine over the side of a road. She had no idea what she was doing. I don't think I would have done that. It's an amazing thing and I'm only here because of you. "

As a baby, Jennifer was adopted into a loving family. Recently, she requested that her adoption records be opened to her. Nothing could have prepared her for the shocking report: Jennifer had been abandoned, left in a stranger's car just minutes after being born. She was covered in blood, her umbilical cord still attached, she was freezing and she was not breathing.

"I kind of had those feelings of, 'Was I not good enough? Did I not measure up?' There had to have been a reason why my biological parents didn't keep me, didn't want me, and would leave me in a situation like that," Jennifer says.

But miraculously, Jennifer did have angels looking after her that day. "The one good thing that did come from the articles was that I was found by a nurse who was leaving her shift at the hospital," she says. "I had been named after one of the nurses. There were a lot of people who contacted the hospital asking how I was. There were presents brought to the hospital."

But because most of Jennifer's records were kept confidential, she had little information on the strangers who saved her life.

"I owe a big debt of gratitude…to these people and all I want to do is be able to meet them and let them know I'm okay," Jennifer says. "I think it would be a good type of closure for me because they are the reason that I'm here today."

Jennifer's adoption records left her with many unanswered questions and she wrote to us for help. Our producers and a team of investigators launched a search to find anybody who could tell her more about the day she was born. And this is what they found:

It was a freezing afternoon in December 1968 when nurse Beatrice Rasmussen finished her shift at the Allegheny hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin. When she got into her car, she saw a blanket in the passenger seat. Underneath the blanket was a newborn baby covered in blood with the umbilical cord attached. Bea rushed her inside. Because the hospital specialized in mental health, few nurses had emergency medical training. But Janet Pelzl was one who did.

"And so I started pressing lightly on the baby's chest as I was giving the baby puffs of air," Janet says. "And then miraculously she gasped and started breathing. I can still see that little baby lying there. She had dark hair and [was] just perfectly formed. Just a beautiful little girl."

The infant was transported to the city's medical hospital in critical condition. There she became known as Janet Holly—"Janet" in honor of the nurse who helped save her life and "Holly" because it was Christmas time.

The community showered love and concern on the newborn and there were many offers to adopt her.
Janet and Jennifer

The nurse who found Jennifer in her car passed away about 20 years ago. But today, Janet and Jennifer are meeting for the first time! Even though years passed, Janet says she never stopped thinking about the little baby she helped save.

Janet: As time went by I would think, "Well, now she's probably at the age where she's got to be going to high school," and "Maybe she's getting married or having a family." … I've always felt like I was kind of a mother to 'Janet Holly' because I helped her have a life even though I didn't give birth to her. I always hoped that she knew there was this whole group of people that rejoiced at her birth, and if there would be anything that I'd want her to know it's how important she was to all of us.

Jennifer: Even just looking at my adoption records I never thought we'd be able to find anybody, let alone that those people would still be around today so that I could thank them. … Thank you.