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When you first see twin sisters Abby and Isabelle Carlson, you probably wouldn’t think anything is unusual about them. True, they look exactly alike, but otherwise the sisters seem like completely normal 10-year-old girls.

Little would you know that these sisters almost lost their lives at the very start of their lives.

Abby and Isabelle were conjoined twins at birth, with Isabelle’s heart more in Abby’s chest, and almost all of their organs twisted between their two bodies. And just ten years ago, doctors at the Mayo Clinic were training to perform an incredibly tricky surgery: they were preparing to separate the two conjoined twins.

Although the medical teams assure the girls’ parents that they had the situation under control, everyone involved knew the potential risks. But pediatric surgeon, Dr. Christopher Moir, had prepared his staff well for the procedure, and everyone was ready to save these two little girls.

“You have your cardiac team, your pancreatic team, your liver team, the plastic surgery teams…and then double them, because there’s two patients,” Dr. Moir told CBS back in 2006.

On May 12th, 2006 these 17 surgeons spent 12 hours successfully separating Abby and Isabelle. Just two weeks later, the girls were able to return to their North Dakota home as two.

Now, ten years later, the Carlson family has been lucky enough to watch their two kids grow up. They watched them walk on their own, learn gymnastics, grown in and out of clothes, and pick up an optimistic thirst for life.

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