Ex-conjoined twins give back after defying odds

Denise Dador Image
Friday, November 28, 2014
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When conjoined twins Josie and Teresa underwent separation surgery in 2001, doctors didn't know what kind of lives the two would be able to lead. Thanks to the generosity of others, the two girls defied the odds and are now giving back.

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- While most kids are sleeping in during their Thanksgiving break, 13-year-old Josie Hull and her junior crew are up early serving donuts at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Twelve years ago, Josie and her sister Teresa made national headlines when local doctors embarked on a risky surgery to separate the Guatemalan twins. The two were born as craniopagus twins, meaning they were conjoined at the head.

They were born in Guatemala and brought to the U.S. to be surgically separated.

Teresa suffered a brain infection shortly afterwards that nearly killed her.

"Teresa had a more difficult road, but it's still continuing to progress," said Robert Kay, M.D., of Children's Hospital L.A.

She has since undergone numerous surgeries, including one recently to straighten her back.

Meantime, Josie is also making great strides.

"Looking at the brightness that they bring to their families, to each other, and also hope to other children, they're both, I think, exceeding expectations," Kay said.

Josie works tirelessly with other fellow volunteers on behalf of Once Upon a Room, a charity they started. They're brightening up the stark hospital surroundings of patient Noemi Silva.

The young volunteers spent many hours shopping, crafting and designing a room they hope make Noemi's Thanksgiving stay a little more cheerful.

"This makes me happy. It doesn't make me think about a lot," Noemi said.

Throughout the 12 years, Josie and her sister have been through a lot of ups and downs, going in and out of the hospital and their friends have seen it all, and that's one of the biggest reasons why they want to give back.

"I've been in the hospital, and I want to give back," Josie said.

Josie and Teresa are thriving thanks to kind and generous volunteers, and they want to return the favor. But for the people they inspire, just being who they are is the gift they give.

"They have such bright dispositions, and they're always happy to come here and to see us," Kay said. "It makes us realize that the things we worry about on a day-to-day basis really aren't that big a deal."

Once Upon a Room provides an invaluable service to children in the hospital while fighting serious or life-threatening illnesses, according to their website.

For more information on their mission or how you can donate this holiday season, visit http://onceuponaroom.org.