Rare Australian conjoined twins Faith and Hope have died.
Their parents defied medical advice to give the conjoined twins a chance at life. But sadly, the girls who were born to Sydney woman Renee Young earlier this month have passed away with their parents by their bedside.
The girls, who were three weeks old when they died, suffered from the extremely rare congenital disorder called diprosopus. They shared a heart, a body, limbs and a skull, but each had their own brain and a set of identical facial features.
A hospital spokeswoman said they died just after noon (2pm NZ time) on Tuesday.
After discovering the babies' condition, also known as cranialfacial duplication, at her 19 week ultrasound, Ms Young and her partner Simon Howie were advised by doctors to consider terminating the pregnancy. But the couple, who have seven other children between them, chose to give their daughters a chance at life.
They were born at 32 weeks by emergency caesarean on May 8.
"They are breathing perfectly on their own and feeding," Mr Howie told Woman's Day shortly after the emergency caesarean birth at Blacktown Hospital.
"We have no idea how long they will be in hospital. We just want to bring them home, happy and healthy to make our family a little bit bigger and a bit more chaotic.
"Even though there is only one body, we call them our twins. To us, they are our girls and we love them."
In spite of their young age and condition, Ms Young told the magazine that the girls had "very separate" personalities.
"You have to see it to believe it. Sometimes Faith will cry and wake Hope up, who then looks sideways as if to say 'Thanks for that'," she said.
There are about 35 similar cases recorded worldwide and none of these babies survived.
-Sydney Morning Herald and AAP