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Colorado's conjoined twins 14 years later

The birth of conjoined twins is rare and their survival is far from assured. Statistics from the University of Maryland Medical Center show conjoined twins occur once every 200,000 live births and just about 35% survive only one day.
The birth of conjoined twins is rare, and their survival is far from assured. Statistics from the University of Maryland Medical Center show conjoined twins occur once every 200,000 live births and just about 35 percent survive only one day.

PARKER - The birth of conjoined twins is rare, and their survival is far from assured. Statistics from the University of Maryland Medical Center show conjoined twins occur once every 200,000 live births and just about 35 percent survive only one day.

Emily and James Stark became well aware of these facts when they learned their twins were joined at the base of their spines. As parents-to-be they were forced to make some difficult decisions.

"We breathed those decisions and made those decisions knowing that someday we'd have to look at them in the face and say 'yes, we chose to separate you, and these are the consequences of it," Emily Stark said.

The risks they weighed: The babies would not survive surgery; one of the girls would survive and one would not, or they could be unable to use their legs. The Starks decided the girls deserved the chance to live independent lives.

The surgery took place at the University of Colorado in October 2001, when the girls were 7 months old. More than 55 doctors and nurses were involved in the operation. They were the first and only set of twins to be separated in Colorado and survive.

Today, Lexi and Sydney are almost 14 years old. They are healthy and happy and typical teenage girls. They are best friends but have two very different personalities.

Lexi loves to bake and cook. Sydney plays the piano. Their close friends know they were born conjoined.

"Sometimes our friends will squish us together and say 'imagine if you guys were still conjoined? That would be so weird,'" Sydney said.

Their parents will never forget the anxiety and fear they faced prior to and during the surgery. They are extremely appreciative of all the prayers sent their way.

"Look at where they are now, and look at where all the prayers have gotten us," Emily Stark said.

As a former Mrs. Colorado, Emily Stark is a motivational speaker and the director of the Mrs. Colorado America program. She is active in online support groups for parents of conjoined twins. She encourages them to never give up hope.

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)