The world is a very interesting place, making room for strange phenomena, such as rare births, crazy coincidences, and love at first sight. The Garrison triplets are at the center of one of these incredible phenomena.
Two of the triplets, Mackenzie and Macy, were born as conjoined sisters. As if that wasn’t rare enough, the girls also have a triplet sister, Madeline. Mackenzie and Macy are one of only two cases in the world of conjoined twins who were born with a triplet sister.
The triplets were adopted by Darla and Jeff Garrison at nine months old after their birth parents – who struggled with substance abuse – put them up for adoption in hopes of finding someone who could give the girls a better chance at life.
Darla and Jeff were already parents to three boys and longed to raise daughters. They thought the triplets were the perfect fit for their happy family.
The couple searched for doctors who could separate Mackenzie and Macy, thus giving them a better and easier life. The case was a tricky one, however, because Mackenzie and Macy were conjoined at the pelvis. They shared a leg and their intestines were intertwined together.
A pediatric surgeon, Dr. James Stein, from the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California was just the man for the job. He shared that getting to perform such an intricate, complex surgery and help the sweet girls was a dream come true. But he was also very aware that there was plenty that could go wrong.
The doctor estimated that the surgery would take about 24 hours to complete. While the girls’ parents knew Mackenzie and Macy would have easier lives once they were separated, the surgery would be bittersweet, as the girls found a huge comfort in being so close to each other.
Darla Garrison admits that Macy would suck Mackenzie’s thumb and Mackenzie would suck Macy’s thumb; the girls would just comfort each other that way.
Before the surgery, doctors began stretching the two girls’ skin so that it would more easily fit over the wounds once they were separated. Finally, when the day of the surgery came, the doctors did an amazing job. The surgery went very well and the girls were sitting up, happy and smiling only a few days into recovery.
The girls were genetically identical, but they definitely had different personalities. Their mom explains that Macy was a little “softer around the edges” and a bit more timid than her sister, Mackenzie.
Mackenzie and Macy were each given prosthetic legs and had to use crutches until they were grown enough to find their own balance, but they were clearly very lively and happy. While the girls grew up handicapped, they were never made to feel different than their triplet sister or any other “normal” child.
Linda Kontis, one of the cofounders of the agency that placed the girls in the Garrison’s care, shares, “When you raise children who are handicapped in any way, when they’re surrounded by people who treat them like regular kids, that becomes how they see themselves.” The whole family made Macy and Mackenzie feel completely normal, so that’s exactly how they grew up to see themselves.
Now, about 15 years later, the girls are doing as well as ever. They’re still happy and full of life, finding their way in the world as teenagers. The rest of the Garrison family are still overwhelmingly grateful to have got to watch the three girls grow up.
Watch the video below to learn more about the triplets’ beginning.