It's a Miracle!
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."
"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.
"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."
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 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.
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.
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 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."
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.
"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. "
"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."
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: 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.