Memorial race honors conjoined twins' legacy of perseverance - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Memorial race honors conjoined twins' legacy of perseverance

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Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011 2:39 pm | Updated: 5:00 pm, Fri Mar 4, 2011.

It is possible that the Two Sisters, One Heart Memorial Run in honor of conjoined twins Emma and Taylor Bailey could have evolved into a successful annual event in San Tan Valley.

However, shortly after the twins' death last August, parents Tor and Mandy Bailey determined that this year's event, to be held on Saturday, would be the last.

There are organizational headaches, Mandy Bailey said, but the main reason the race will cease is that it emphasizes the hole in her family since the girls' passing due to complications from heart surgery in Seattle.

"We decided shortly after the funeral - the day after, actually," Mandy Bailey said. "We made plans to have a smaller version in 2011 because we anticipated being out of state a lot while on a transplant list. It's possible we could partner with another non-profit to stage a race, but we probably won't do it under the Two Sisters, One Heart banner.

"It's hard, really hard."

Saturday's Memorial Run - consisting of a 5K, 10K and 1-mile family races - will be the third. The inaugural event was on Valentine's Day 2009, a day Mandy Bailey said was "full of promise and hope," despite the risks in attempting to separate Emma and Taylor Bailey, which doctors determined was necessary.

Connected at the chest and lower abdomen, the girls shared a common heart and liver. The August heart surgery was one of several procedures Emma and Taylor Bailey underwent to strengthen the heart prior to separation surgery, which was to take place later in 2010.

"The risks were terrifying, but they were supposed to be in future surgeries," Mandy Bailey said. "All of us agreed, and the surgeons obviously, that the heart surgery was the next step. Having them pass unexpectedly caught everybody off-guard to try and function and work through it."

The Bailey girls died a month shy of their fourth birthday, survived by their parents and four siblings.

About 35 percent of conjoined twins live one day, and Emma and Taylor were expected to die not long after birth. Persevering and beating the odds has become a big part of the twins' legacy.

"I've been told often by people that their problems don't seem so hard now," Mandy Bailey said. "(The family) managed it, but it was taxing. As for the girls, to have a situation like that was not ideal, but they were happy and content with it. That's a hard lesson, even for adults, to be satisfied with the situation at hand."

The Baileys are awaiting IRS approval for a Two Sisters, One Heart non-profit organization. How active it would be is to be determined, Mandy Bailey said.

"The statistics (for conjoined twins) are stacked against them, no doubt about it," Mandy Bailey said. "It would be difficult to continue with a pregnancy under those circumstances. I did it and would do it again. I think the girls' story could offer encouragement to a family if they find themselves in that situation."

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