DENVER -- Amber McCullough describes her 10-week-old daughter Hannah as a miracle baby. It’s hard to argue when you learn Hannah was born a conjoined twin, attached at the chest, stomach and hip to her sister Olivia.
Olivia was born with a deformed heart and had no chance of survival.
But an all-day separation surgery on Aug. 26 has turned out well for Hannah despite some early setbacks in the operating room.
“She lost a substantial amount of blood and at one point coded on the table ... her heart stopped,” said McCullough, who was featured on FOX31 just two days before her twins' births at Children’s Hospital of Colorado.
“I'm grieving Olivia and I'm playing with my surviving daughter's toes,” said McCullough, describing the dichotomy between celebrating the birth of one child while still grieving the loss of her twin.
“Want (Hannah) to know there was no other way. One of my fears is that she would ever feel any sort of survivor’s guilt."
Hannah was born with a fifth limb attached just above her right hip. One day doctors will have to amputate it, but even then, McCullough said walking could be difficult.
“We don't know enough to say anything for sure about what the future of her walking looks like, but it's within the realm of possibility that she could walk without having to have her hips surgically realigned or anything," McCullough said.
Hannah’s health issues are complicated but her mom said the decision to have her wasn’t, even though McCullough said some doctors encouraged her to abort the twins.
“As a society we accept this premise that we love our children unconditionally because they are our children right? How do I look at my son and tell him I love you because you are my son unconditionally but then abort his sisters because they`re complicated?” McCullough said.
Her 6-year-old son Tristan met his little sister in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first time in mid-October.
“One of his first questions was how many legs does she have? Well actually Tristan she has three. And he just started laughing, like belly laughing. ‘Oh mom she's so silly’ like she chose to have three legs,” McCullough said.
There is no timetable for when Hannah might be discharged.
Doctors tell McCullough her daughter needs to be able to breathe on her own and overcome some medical issues but even when she is ready, the family won’t return to Minnesota.
Instead, McCullough intends to make Denver her new home.
She said it’s the place that has embraced her family and for Hannah’s well-being, she wants to stay near the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Colorado, who know her best.
“These doctors were the only ones that could offer us a chance. She’s going to have other hurdles. I can’t imagine her getting a cold and taking her anywhere else," she said.
To help McCullough with her ongoing expenses, visit her GoFundMe.com page.