MINNEAPOLIS – From the moment Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez entered the world together, on February 10, 2017, six weeks early, their twin bond was immediate.

The identical twin girls reached out and touched each other’s faces in the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  They held each other’s pacifiers. Their hearts beat in near unison.

“It was a miracle, it really was,” said Paris Bryan, their mother.

But for Bryan and her fiancé, Ernesto Martinez, of Cass Lake, Minnesota, the biggest surprise was yet to come.

CONJOINED, HEARTS CONNECTED

Around three months into Bryan’s pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed her twin girls were conjoined, from chest to their abdomen, connected at the chest, heart and liver.

Conjoined twins occur approximately in one of 200,000 live births — and depending on how they’re conjoined — up to one in a million births, according to University of Minnesota physicians, who diagnosed Paisleigh and Paislyn as thoraco-omphalopagus conjoined twins.

Conjoined twins with a connection between the heart faced the highest risk of death. The twins lacked a breastbone, and their livers were fused in the middle.

Dr. Thomas George, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital neonatologist, said he had only seen conjoined twins once in his 25 years in medicine, and in that case, the twins did not survive.

“But this was an extraordinary experience, to see these girls come out, what was amazing too, they clearly already…