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A double reason for being thankful
Twins born conjoined, now healthy and happy
You wouldn’t know it to look at them, but identical twins Kayla and Kyana Asuncion were born conjointly. They were joined at the abdomen and shared a liver. After numerous surgeries on Kayla, the twins are now happy and mostly healthy 13-year-olds who live and attend middle school in Visalia.
“We’re blessed because thank God they’re here with us. This is a miracle. With all the things we’ve been through especially with Kayla and not taking any medicines, I’m very proud of them,” said Lorlyn Umaguing the twin’s mother. Their stepfather Michael Umaguing, who works at Lemoore Naval Air Station, agreed.
“They’ve been doing good, especially Kayla,” said Michael.
So far, in the 13 years of their life, the twins have weathered surgeries and health issues.
Born in August 1999 at Community Medical Center in Fresno, they were the only conjoined twins in the Central Valley. In September of that year, the twins underwent a separation surgery at Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera.
“Kayla had a hard time breathing and could only get enough air when Kyana cried,” said Lorlyn, who was told by doctors that Kayla would not make it. Lorlyn added that the separation surgery and the resulting surgeries on each of the girls took a total of 16 hours.
Since then Kayla, the eldest, has undergone six open heart surgeries. Kayla was diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease and Kyana had to have some of her liver removed.
Through the years, Kayla has had to take heart medications and has visited Children’s Hospital for checkups.
“We used to go every three months, then six months and now it’s every year,” said Lorlyn, who added that Kayla will have to have a surgery every five to 10 years.
Her most recent surgery gave Lorlyn a scare.
“In 2007 she [Kayla] had an echo cardiogram and they told us she needed surgery. She had a heart aneurism. The surgery went well. After two weeks we went to Sierra View District Hospital and her aorta ruptured,” said Lorlyn, who added that once Kayla was transferred to Children’s Hospital she lost a liter of blood. However, she improved after her coumadin was reversed.
“She’s a fighter,” said Lorlyn, who added that in 2008 Kayla was taken off her medications.
On Wednesday, the girls, who are usually at school, were helping out at their parents’ restaurant Lorlyn’s Kitchen Filipino Cuisine in Porterville.
The restaurant, on West Olive where the old Fish Net restaurant was once located, specializes in Filipino food like pancit and opened in October. Hailing from the Philippines, Lorlyn, who lived in Porterville for 13 years, has always wanted her own restaurant and Porterville proved to be the right spot.
“In Porterville the rent is cheaper. As a first time business owner I have to go with the cheaper rent,” said Lorlyn, who operates the restaurant with her husband.
“He’s really good with the kids and helps me with everything,” she added.
These days the twins are showing their differences.
Kayla likes to play soccer by herself while Kyana prefers to play her clarinet.
This Thanksgiving the twins are thankful for different things.
“Good grades as good grades gets good classes,” said Kayla, who wants to be a heart surgeon.
Her sister disagreed.
“For my friends and family,” stated Kyana, who would like to be a pediatrician. “I want to help kids.”