In British Columbia, Canada, there is a set of conjoined, craniopagus twins. Krista and Tatiana are both 4 years old and conjoined at the head. More specifically, Krista and Tatiana are linked at the thalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for interpreting sensation, spatial sense, and motor signals. Each twin has shown signs of being able to feel and see what the other twin is experiencing. During her pregnancy, Felicia was presented with the option to terminate the pregnancy. She chose not to and the twins were born through a C-section. Amazingly, Krista and Tatiana both survived the birth and have been thriving ever since. But as Krista and Tatiana grow older, it will become more and more difficult to live normal lives being conjoined at the head. The question will soon arise: should they risk a separation surgery? The problem is that surgery is extremely risky; there is a possibility that one or both of the twins could suffer paralysis or even death. If they choose not to undergo surgery, they will forever live their lives in a compromised state. Thus, staying together means that Krista and Tatiana would forfeit any semblance of privacy or independence. Their lifestyles, careers, and love lives are only a few issues that will have to be negotiated with one another, never experiencing absolute freedom.
Although forgoing the surgery would cause endless complications for the twins, I think that the potential consequences are too extreme to risk surgery. The possibility of death makes the surgery an illogical choice. The goal of surgery is to improve the eventual lives of the twins, but if either or both die then what is the point? I also think that it is important to consider the possibility of emotional damage. If one twin died but the other survived, I expect that this would be quite traumatic to the parents and the surviving twin. The potential for improved living circumstances is not worth the risk of death. Furthermore, there are ways to improve Krista and Tatiana’s lives without needing surgery. John Rawls believed that everyone deserved an equal opportunity to succeed in life and proposed that the government should create institutions in society to help the disadvantaged. Unfortunately, Krista and Tatiana are exceptionally hindered by their condition. I would advocate that the government somehow accommodate the twins and create programs that can help equalize their disadvantages and others with similar disabilities. Without such programs, Krista and Tatiana would absolutely not have as equal of opportunities as anyone else. Hopefully with specific policies, Krista and Tatiana will be able to lead as normal lives as possible.
What do you think? Is it worth it? Should the twins risk their lives in order to secure a normal life? If they choose to have the surgery and one of the twins dies or is paralyzed, would it have been worth it? If the government were to create such institutions, how would they be able create an equal opportunity for Krista and Tatiana and other conjoined twins?