Formerly Conjoined Twins Finally Share Their Journey 18 Years After Separation

Formerly Conjoined Twins Finally Share Their Journey 18 Years After Separation

For Mackenzie and Macy Garrison, life hasn’t been without its struggles. They’ve dealt with tough homework, taking on after-school jobs, and finding the best times to hang out with friends. More importantly, they have navigated their lives as separate individuals, thanks to a successful operation. The twins were born conjoined, and before the surgery, their path in life was uncertain. The only guarantee was their incredible bond.

Three Together

The Garrison girls were born as triplets. While Madeline was born healthy, Macey and Mackenzie faced some serious risks. Conjoined at the pelvis, these sisters faced a very different path in life. Their parents had to make a series of gut-wrenching decisions.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Good Doctor

Ten months after their birth, the girls faced a choice that determined the future of their family. The chief medical officer at the Los Angeles’ Children’s Hospital, Dr. James Stein, came forward to head an operation that could help the babies.

Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

Planning Ahead

Dr. Stein was adamant about completing the operation. After all, while the planned surgery was not going to be easy, Stein knew it was necessary if the girls were to enjoy an independent life. Though this was no routine procedure.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Obstacles

Making the surgery more complicated was that the girls’ shared a third leg, and their intestines were entwined. Besides the internal challenges, an external one surfaced: Their birth parents had drug addictions and gave the girls over for adoption.

Inside Edition/CBS

Careful Precision

But those personal issues couldn’t delay the procedure any longer. During a 24-hour long operation in 2003, Dr. Stein led a team of surgeons in meticulously separating Macey and Mackenzie. If all went according to plan, both of the twins would be left with one leg.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A New Family

By the last hour, the doctors knew the surgery’s objective had been accomplished. Still, because of the parents’ addiction issues, the future of all three sisters was hanging in limbo. Two years later, positive news developed.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Big and Wholesome

The twins and their other sister were adopted by Darla Keller and Jeff Garrison. They took the girls to their home in Iowa, where with three biological sons, the Garrison family grew. Three sisters now had three brothers.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Treated Right

Living on a farm, the sisters thrived. Both Darla and Jeff treated them as regular kids and it helped tremendously. Macey and Mackenzie may still have had difficulties, but they had a strong determination as well.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Later Obstacles

Due to their amputations, the two relied on prosthetics to stay mobile. Several more medical issues came about as the years went by. Spinal infusions caused issue for the twins, but they persevered. Soon, a big milestone loomed ahead.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Another Step into Life

During the fall of 2020, the triplets entered their senior year of high school. Two decades of their life have almost been completed. For the first time, they could really start looking ahead to a future of their own making.

Facebook / Macey Garrison

One Decision

Madeline, after years of watching the medical help given to her sisters, became interested in a career in the nursing field. She wanted to narrow her focus onto geriatric patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Facebook / Madeline Garrison

New Direction

Mackenzie had not made definite plans on her future just yet, although she realized she had a passion for agriculture. As for Macey, she has started plans to become a kindergarten teacher. One person could hardly believe the strides they’d made.

Facebook / Mackenzie Garrison

Long Time, No See

Even after all these years later, Dr. Stein wasn’t forgotten. The twins may not have seen him in over a decade, but that didn’t stop them from communicating. Their experience has keep them connected in unexpected ways.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Doctor Reminder

The twins have given their doctor the title of “the coolest person ever” and sent over emails to keep him up to date. Dr. Stein, on his part, became ecstatic by the continued contact. He hasn’t been shy about singing their praises.

Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

Happy Reflection

In People’s “Formerly Conjoined Twins and Their Sister Enjoy Being ‘Normal,'” Dr. Stein gushed about the the girls. “It’s been a wonderful experience following the girls themselves and staying in touch with them.”

Today Show / NBC

Long Time Coming

Dr. Stein had the pleasure to watch as the babies recovered, grew, and matured into two very healthy individuals. The careful work that he and the other doctors performed that day in 2003 paid off well. However, the Garrison girls admitted they were a bit puzzled about all that publicity.

Facebook / Mackenzie Garrison

Common Thoughts

While the twins made headlines during their birth and surgery, both Macey and Madeline have continued to find their prominence in the news, rather odd. Even their sister Madeline could never wrap her head around it.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Sibling Bond

For all three girls, there were simply sisters to one another. The fact that the whole country knew who they were has hardly fazed them, though. They never wanted to become public figures; instead, their personal lives came first.

Facebook / Darla Keller

Future So Bright

Their mother, Darla, was possibly the most excited to see where their future may lead. “I’m relieved because, like I said, we always knew there were going to be bumps in the road and issues,” she said. But fortunately, “They’re just like their peers.”

Facebook / Darla Keller

So Many Paths

For the Garrison family, a few siblings grew up slightly different but were never treated as such. Thanks to that, Macey, Mackenzie and the rest of their family have long since been prepared for their next transition in life. The Garrisons have also had the moral support of other families with less than usual baby deliveries.

Facebook / Madeline Garrison

Broc Elliot

Darci Brown Elliot didn’t have to deal with conjoined twins, but she certainly had her hands full. When Darci gave birth to Broc, he was just under eight pounds — totally healthy. However, he was 22 inches long, which had all the doctors and nurses staring in awe! This kid was clearly going to be tall, but no one had any idea just how big he would be.

Big Boy

Darci couldn’t believe the size of her newborn son. As impressed as she was, she also felt slightly nervous that something was medically wrong with him. It wasn’t every day that very long babies like Broc were born.

Lingering Concerns

Still, Broc was a happy-go-lucky kid as he grew up. He loved playing with other children from the neighborhood, and he would always tower over everyone else his age. Even kids who were said to be big for their age were dwarfed by Broc’s frame.

Growth Spurts

It’s perfectly normal to experience sudden growth spurts growing up, but Broc was going through them far more frequently than any of the other children he spent time with. In fact, by the time he was in kindergarten, he was over five feet tall!

Childhood Challenges

Needless to say, as impressive as Broc’s size was, it made life for his mother difficult. She developed back problems from just trying to carry him, and she found it hard to keep up with his seemingly unending appetite.

Excluded

It was about this time Darci grew concerned for her son. His size prevented her from properly caring for him, and he couldn’t engage in simple activities like bike riding.

Plenty of Love

Of course, for Darci, her son’s size didn’t mean that she loved him any less. If anything, she loved him more! But she also worried about him. She needed to find out once and for all what exactly was happening to his body.

Medical Tests

Broc’s mother brought him to several medical consultations, and doctors ran plenty of tests on the young boy to determine the cause of his rapid growth. Finally, Darci was given the astonishing medical results.

The Diagnosis

Doctors diagnosed Broc with a rare hereditary condition called Sotos Syndrome, also known in the medical community as “cerebral gigantism.” It affects about one in every 15,000 people, and in every case, it causes extreme growth spurts.

Planning Ahead

The family finally had answers to their questions, but it didn’t necessarily bring any peace of mind to Broc or his mother. If Broc truly never stopped growing, eventually he’d be plagued with health problems. What was in store for his future?

Saddening News

Broc and his mother continued making medical visits after the diagnosis, just to make sure everything was okay, but on one particular visit, the doctor told Broc’s mother something that shattered her heart…

The Dreaded Diagnosis

Because of his size, it was unlikely that Broc would live past his teen years. There would simply be too much stress put on his heart as he aged. Worse yet, he was only 14 and already experiencing severe pain through most of every day.

Small Steps

Broc needed certain aspects of his life tailored due to his extreme stature. He had a specialized bed made since he slept as much as 16 hours per day during growth spurts, and his family had a special chair designed to comfortably fit him. It didn’t solve every problem, but it was a start.

Mr. Popular

Broc clearly was a presence at it his school, and nearly every student knew him. He had an infectious charm; people just wanted to be around him. So whenever he fell ill, his friends rallied around and showed their utmost support.

Attention Grabber

Despite the challenges, Broc has done some fascinating things throughout his life. For one, he held the Guinness World Record for tallest teen up until 2015. Then, in 2016, he was approached by a television network…

The Reality TV Deal

TLC approached Broc about a documentary called Tallest Teens that featured several teenagers who topped the growth charts in America. Broc was more than happy to give viewers a peek into his daily life. But, none of these things were as important as one particular television appearance…

Important Messages

Later that same year, after the filming of Tallest Teens, Broc and his mother both appeared on The Maury Show. The episode was about anti-bullying campaigns. Broc and Darci delivered an encouraging message about putting a halt to the epidemic plaguing schools.

Specialist’s Diagnosis

Not long after Broc’s television appearance, he met with a doctor in Arkansas who specialized in Sotos Syndrome, and he gave the family an absolutely fantastic update: although he would probably have chronic pain throughout his life, it seemed Broc had beaten the odds and was going to have a normal lifespan!

No Quick Fixes

As of 2019, Broc, at 21, stood at 7’8″ tall and weighed 500 pounds. He was disappointed about the constant struggle with growth, especially because he’d heard so many stories about medical quick fixes to problems like his.