When Ruby and Rosie Formosa were born joined at the abdomen and sharing part of an intestine, their parents were told the conjoined twins had a 25% chance of survival.
Now, four years after an emergency operation to separate them saved their lives, they are preparing to go to school for the first time.
The four-year-olds, from Bexleyheath in Kent, are said to be very excited about starting school and have been trying on their school uniforms.
“It really is a big milestone,” their mother, Angela Formosa, 35, said. “There were times when I never even thought I would see this day, so for it to be here is overwhelming – it’s a really happy time.
“The girls are so excited and I think the fact that they are going to their big sister Lily’s school is a huge thing too.
“They want to be in the same class and stay together.”
Four years ago, a pregnant Formosa went to King’s College Hospital for her 16-week scan and was told by doctors her twins were conjoined.
The rare medical condition accounts for just one in every 200 000 live births.
“I never even imagined that would be a possibility, it was so rare,” Formosa said.
“I was really scared and upset, because at that point I was told there was a high possibility that the girls wouldn’t survive . . .
“I didn’t prepare to bring them home. It wasn’t until they had had their operation that my husband [Daniel, 40] started painting the bedroom and getting everything ready for them.”
The twins were delivered at University College Hospital by caesarean section when Formosa was 34 weeks pregnant. They weighed 2.2kg each.
Within a couple of hours, they were taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital for emergency surgery because of an intestinal blockage.
Praising the staff, Formosa said: “It wasn’t until they got into surgery that they saw what was going on. It was on-the-spot decisions as to what was to be done.”
The operation to separate the girls took five hours and they were well enough to go home at three weeks old.
Formosa said it felt like “a million years” ago since their surgery.
While they have more surgery ahead of them in the future, they are “happy, healthy and excited about starting school”.