Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,187 covers and 55,435 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Mets Manager Terry Collins Writes Moving Letter to Widow of Longtime Fan
- Read the Cover Story: Inside Blake & Miranda's Shocking Split
- Caitlyn Jenner Steps Out for Lunch With Pal Candis Cayne
- Woman Born Without Arms Tells 3-Year-Old With Same Condition,'You Can Do Anything' (Video)
- Kelsea Ballerini Talks Ultimate Jam Session with Taylor Swift: 'I Was on Cloud 900'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- December 13, 1982
- Vol. 18
- No. 24
Joined at Birth and Surgically Separated, the Hansen Twins Are Small Miracles
"I was still in the delivery room," Pat recalls, "and I had a feeling that I had given birth to something awful, something freakish." Her husband was no less stunned. "Why me?" Dave asked himself in anguish. "What did I do to cause it?" But within minutes he pulled himself together. "Those were my little babies. The doctors said they might not make it, so I went in to see Pat. We talked and cried for a good half hour."
At first Pat was uncertain whether she even wanted to see her newborns. But Dave, on his own, decided to bring the kids to her room. "I'm so glad he did," she says now. "I saw two sweet little children that were mine. Things changed around for me."
One of the twins was called Elisa, a name Dave first heard when he toured Denmark as a Mormon missionary. Her sister became Lisa—because it rhymed. A team of specialists, then headed by Dr. Stephen Minton, of the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, evaluated the twins' condition, known as craniopagus. They found that Elisa and Lisa shared certain veins through which their blood flowed back and forth. The prospect of either—or both—surviving an operation to separate was not good.
Nonetheless, by the following February the Hansens and their doctors had come to the hard decision that surgical separation was the only acceptable alternative to lives of severe deformity. In and out of the hospital for 19 months, the sisters underwent four delicate preparatory operations. And then, on May 30, 1979, Elisa and Lisa were successfully separated after 16½ hours in surgery.
Pat Hansen, meanwhile, had gotten pregnant again. In fact, only three weeks before the landmark operation she gave birth to a healthy third daughter, Shaylyn. Now, suddenly, the Hansens had three helpless infants at home at once. Elisa and Lisa cried continually at night because they simply weren't used to being apart. After their cribs were placed closer together, the crying stopped.
Drawing on their Mormon faith for strength, the parents have reorganized their lives around the children. "Dave's not afraid to help out," says Pat. "If I'm out in the afternoon, he'll have the table set and dinner ready. He's sensitive. If I have had a rough day, he can sense it. Sometimes he'll send me flowers to build up my spirits."
That devotion has paid off, for the children as well as the parents. Today, at 5, the twins have distinct personalities: Elisa is extraverted, Lisa more pensive (with Shaylyn somewhere in between). Elisa suffers a weakness in her right arm and side; Lisa suffers similar problems on her left side. Recently Lisa also lost the mobility of her legs, for which she is receiving medical treatment. As the one with more physical problems, she is in a special education class at an elementary school not far away, in Layton, while Elisa can go to the neighborhood elementary school in nearby Clearfield. Both also attend weekly physical therapy sessions in Ogden.
Dave, 28, now heads his own dairy and ice cream distributorship, and Pat, 25, teaches a preschool class for Shaylyn and other neighborhood kids. They have no time for self-pity. "We think alike," says Dave, nodding toward Pat. "Our problems are nothing compared to what others have."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!