Conjoined twins, 20, who survived UK's first spine separation surgery

Conjoined twins, 20, who survived UK’s first spine separation surgery say they’re ‘grateful’ they got the chance to become ‘two separate individuals’

  • Eman and Sanchia Mowatt survived the UK’s first spine separation surgery 
  • Said they are ‘grateful’ their parents decided to go ahead with the operation 
  • Birmingham sisters, 20, were given just a 5 to 25 per cent chance of survival
  • Conjoined twins who survived the UK’s first spine separation surgery have said they are ‘grateful’ their parents decided to go ahead with the operation – despite a bleak 5 to 25 per cent chance of survival rate.

    Eman and Sanchia Mowatt, from Great Barr, Birmingham, were dubbed ‘walking miracles’ after being thrust into the spotlight of the world’s media following their successful procedure.

    Doctors had feared the pioneering operation, performed for only the third time in the world on the sisters in 2001, when they were just three-months-old, could lead to paralysis.

    But the 16-hour surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was a success and the sisters appeared on ITV‘s Lorraine today to praise the medical staff who helped them become ‘two separate individuals’ as well as their parents for making the difficult decision.

    Eman and Sanchia, who are currently studying at different universities, along with their younger sister Damaris are raising funds for the hospital through their singing as they end their treatment there and move into adult care.

    Scroll down for video  








    Eman and Sanchia Mowatt (pictured together), from Great Barr, Birmingham, were dubbed 'walking miracles' after being thrust into the spotlight of the world's media following their successful procedure

    Eman and Sanchia Mowatt (pictured together), from Great Barr, Birmingham, were dubbed ‘walking miracles’ after being thrust into the spotlight of the world’s media following their successful procedure

    Doctors had feared the pioneering operation, performed for only the third time in the world on the sisters in 2001, when they were just three-months-old (pictured), could lead to paralysis

    Doctors had feared the pioneering operation, performed for only the third time in the world on the sisters in 2001, when they were just three-months-old (pictured), could lead to paralysis

    But the 16-hour surgery at Birmingham Children's Hospital was a success and the sisters (pictured as babies with their parents) appeared on ITV's Lorraine today to praise the medical staff who helped them as well as their parents for making the difficult decision

    But the 16-hour surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was a success and the sisters (pictured as babies with their parents) appeared on ITV’s Lorraine today to praise the medical staff who helped them as well as their parents for making the difficult decision

    Discussing her parents’ decision to go ahead with the operation, Eman said: ‘We can only imagine what our parents were going through, and them thinking about the survival rate and how we’d be at least ten, twenty years down the line or even a year down the line. 

    ‘But we’re still grateful to them because I know that they were probably thinking “what will the twins be like in the next couple of years” and we’re kind of grateful that they did make the decision and that the surgery was successful.’

    Sanchia added: ‘Our parents have always called us walking miracles, and the papers as well, but we do deal with disabilities and limited walking mobility and standing mobility but we’re able to still live a regular life. 

    ‘There are some side effects that still affect us, some that we won’t really go into. but at the end of the day we’re still grateful to kind of live the life and so thankful to the surgeons that gave us the opportunity to be two separate individuals.’

    Eman and Sanchia (pictured together), who are currently studying at different universities, along with their younger sister Damaris are raising funds for the hospital through their singing as they end their treatment there and move into adult care

    Eman and Sanchia (pictured together), who are currently studying at different universities, along with their younger sister Damaris are raising funds for the hospital through their singing as they end their treatment there and move into adult care

    The twins pictured with their younger sister Damaris (pictured right) on Lorraine today

    The twins pictured with their younger sister Damaris (pictured right) on Lorraine today

    Both sisters have spina bifida and each has a weaker side of their body which results in back pain and problems walking, reported The Mirror.

    They both also have one leg shorter than the other, while Eman uses a wheelchair or crutch to walk on her ‘bad days’ and Sanchia also uses a crutch. 

    Speaking in 2002, after being allowed to return home from hospital with their children, proud parents, David and Emma Mowatt, still couldn’t quite believe they could hold one each in their arms.

    ‘Our daughters are the most precious gift, and knowing they can lead independent lives is a miracle,’ said Emma, who was 27 at the time and a bank processor for NatWest. 

    Both sisters (pictured as babies with their parents) have spina bifida and each has a weaker side of their body which results in back pain and problems walking

    Both sisters (pictured as babies with their parents) have spina bifida and each has a weaker side of their body which results in back pain and problems walking

    They both also have one leg shorter than the other, while Eman uses a wheelchair or crutch to walk on her 'bad days' and Sanchia also uses a crutch. Pictured, the twins as babies

    They both also have one leg shorter than the other, while Eman uses a wheelchair or crutch to walk on her ‘bad days’ and Sanchia also uses a crutch. Pictured, the twins as babies

    ‘The past few months have been a a rollercoaster of emotions but we shall always be indebted to the doctors who made this possible.’

    Her husband David, then aged 30 and a youth worker added: ‘The girls are oblivious to each other.

    ‘Before the operation they couldn’t wait to be rid of one another, holding each other’s arms down and hitting the other in the face when they waved their hands. Now it’s as if they don’t want to get that close ever again.’