Formerly conjoined twins celebrate 13th birthday

A Westchester mother recently celebrated the 13th birthday of her once-joined twins.

Arlene Aguirre's twin boys, Clarence and Carl, were born conjoined at the top of the head in 2002 in the Philippines. Aguirre was told she would have to sacrifice one to save the other, but she says that was not an option.

"The moment I saw them, I just felt bad, guilty," Aguirre said. "Then when Clarence touched my finger... I said I should be strong for them and will find a way to help them separate."

In 2003, without knowing a word of English, Aguirre brought the boys to the Unites States to risk everything on a first-of-its-kind procedure to separate them. The multistage operation was performed by Dr. James Goodrich at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

The surgery was successful, even though it left both boys with many physical challenges. Clarence and Carl, who are identical twins, still wear their helmets every day to protect the spot where they were separated.

While Clarence is able to do most things one would expect from a typical teenager, Carl suffers from daily seizures and takes three different medications to control them. Carl is also unable to walk and speak, and will likely need care for the rest of his life.

News 12 caught up with the boys for their 13th birthday celebration in April at their Scarsdale home. Carl received a DVD of "The Wiggles" and Clarence got a Michael Jackson DVD and another of a "Batman" series.

The boys' mother says they share an incredibly strong bond, even if Carl cannot speak.

"Many times they are just looking at each other and they just start laughing, so I think the connection between them is really, really strong," Aguirre said.

While her job as mother can be demanding, Aguirre says she wouldn't have it any other way.

Since separating the boys, Dr. Goodrich has helped 16 other sets of conjoined twins all around the world.

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