Italian woman had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by Essex social workers. (Reuters Picture)
In an unusual display of unconditional love - an apt theme for this month of love - a couple from Sydney, Australia, decided to push through with the pregnancy of the wife despite the unborn baby having 2 faces and 2 brain, but one body.
Doctors have advised Renee Young and Simon Howie to abort the child because it would be seen as a freak when it comes out to the world, but the would-be parents insist on keeping their eighth offspring.
The baby has the condition called craniofacial hyperhidrosis or diprosopus. It is an extreme form of conjoined twins and so rare that only 35 cases are on record and none survived.
The couple, who live with their seven other children in a public housing project in Tregear, Sydney, shared their heartwarming and unusual story with Nine Network TV show, A Current Affair.
Three-dimensional scans of the unborn baby showed the child has two legs, two arms, one body with one double-vaulted skull and two faces that has an exact duplicate of eyes, nose and mouth. The two brains of the child are connected to one brain stem. Click here to see the 3-D scan images.
Ms Young recalled being shocked when the sonographer showed them the ultrasound results which revealed the different physical features of their eighth child. She and her husband rejected the physicians' advice to terminate her pregnancy, but instead vowed to surround the child with people who would love the different baby.
The couple, whose other kids range from teenagers to the current youngest still using a high chair, cited moral grounds as the basis of their difficult but brave decision.
Mr Howie explained, quoted by Mail Online, "We thought it was the same as bringing home a child with autism or Down syndrome. I don't really believe in terminating a baby if it's healthy and growing fine."
Dr Greg Kesby, a maternal foetal specialist, had warned the couple that even if the baby survives birth, treatment would be very expensive. Ms Young said they are willing to return to work, if necessary, to pay for the expected high cost of keeping their eighth child alive.
She is on a disability pension due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, while Mr Howie draws a carer's pension.
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When told that Lali, the last baby born with the same condition in 2008 in a remote Indian village died two months after her birth, Ms Young replied, "If I only get two days with the baby, I only get two days."
Jess, one of the couple's teenage daughters, added, "We'll love it no matter what ... It might be deformative, but it's still a baby. It's still a human."