When Jill Richards went in for a routine ultrasound in 2016, she had no idea what kind of long, stressful journey she was about to embark on.
The procedure revealed she was pregnant with a pair of twin girls. Normally that’s a cause for celebration, but her unborn children were conjoined twins.
Right away, Richards and her family – including her husband Michael and their two sons – relocated from their home in North Texas to Houston, to be close to her pediatric surgeon.
Already, a team of doctors at the Texas Children’s Hospital were preparing for the birth.
Not just to care for the twins, but also for the dangerous surgery to separate them.
Richard gave birth to Anna Grace and Hope Richards in December of 2016.
The birth was a success, but the doctors could tell that dividing the twins with surgery would not be easy.
The girls, who weighed a combined 9 pounds, 12 ounces, shared a chest wall, heart lining, diaphragm, and liver.
Their bodies also posed a unique challenge for the doctors: the twin’s hearts were connected by a blood vessel that would have to be severed.
As the twins and their family waited for the operation, a team of doctors spent more than a year rehearsing and preparing for the risky procedure.