A sobering news report on MSNBC reminds us to be grateful for our good health - and that of our children.
Anastasia and Tatiana Dogaru, who will be 5 in January, were born in Rome to Romanian parents. The top of Tatiana's head is attached to the back of Anastasia's, meaning the girls have never been able to look each other in the eye.
Tatiana has had to undergo heart surgery. Anastasia has no kidney function and relies on Tatiana's kidneys.
Physicians at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland had hoped to separate the girls, but that surgery was deemed too dangerous and was called off in August 2007.
Still, Salyer, whose foundation brought the girls to Dallas when they were babies, had kept up hope that separation might still be possible.
But no longer.
"We have finally decided that it's in these girls' best interest that they remain like they are and that's really hard for me to say because I've been optimistic about separation," Salyer told The Associated Press earlier this month.
He said attempts to find other medical centers to take the case were unsuccessful after the Ohio operation was called off.
One girl's brain is growing into the other's, making surgery impossible. Also, their brains' ability to recover from a separation surgery has diminished.
"As they've gotten older and they've grown and developed — it's now too dangerous to separate the children," Salyer said.
While they are doing well now, the girls' future is uncertain because of their complicated connection. Besides their joined brains, they also share blood vessels and don't have enough venous drainage, Salyer said. "They don't have normal systems," Salyer said.
"All of the medical issues in total, you can't say how these children are going to do," he said.
It's terribly sad to read this. I don't know how long these children will live, or what the quality of their life will be like: but spare a thought, and a prayer, for them - and particularly for their parents. I can't imagine what it must be like to love your children, and see them like this every day, knowing that they will never have normal lives, and will probably have a much shorter life than others.
Remember: "There, but for the grace of God, go I . . . "