An Indian family is grieving the loss of their conjoined twin daughters, who shared one body but had two heads. The girls were 20 days old.
The twins were delivered by C-section on March 13 to Urmila and Subhash Sharma in Sonipat, a town in northern India. Born with two heads, necks, and spines, but only one heart, physicians knew that the girls' chances for survival were low. They also had one lung and one stomach each.
An x-ray and photos of the twins can be seen here.
After two days in a Sonipat hospital, the twins were transferred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital in Delhi, under the care of Dr. Minu Bajpai.
Dr. Bajpai described the terrible struggle the babies faced from birth.
"They suffered respiratory problems from the moment they arrived with us, and they just seemed to deteriorate as each day passed," Dr. Bajpai told the Daily Mail. "In the end it was their heart that gave up and they died of heart failure."
Their mother, Urmila, could not bear to meet them, knowing that the babies would not survive for long.
"She could not take them in her arms and cuddle them when they were alive," explained her husband, Subhash, in a Daily Mail interview. "She had accepted their fate but being a mother, it's still hard to accept their death."
He said that Urmila, 28, is inconsolable with grief.
"She's very emotional and she's crying inconsolably," said Subhash, 32. "She wanted her babies to live so much and now they're gone she is very lost. It was very painful for both my wife and I to see them battling with life. Now I feel they have been set free. I buried them myself, according to Hindu rituals, but my wife couldn't face it."
Mr. Sharma also expressed hope that their next child will be born without complications.
"We can never forget our babies; they will always be in our hearts. But we hope that our next baby will be born normal. I will make sure that if my wife gets pregnant again, she gets proper medical assistance throughout the pregnancy so that we're more prepared next time," he stated.
Despite their tragic loss, Sharma trusts that the twins' birth and death was part of God's plan.
"'I wanted to raise them and for our daughter to have sisters but God had a different plan," Subhash stated. "The fact they survived for 20 days was even a miracle."