5-year-old identical twins Abigail and Isobel are almost impossible to tell apart – and they’re also one in a million.
In the UK, the chances of giving birth to a baby with Down’s syndrome is around one in every thousand and the odds of having identical twins with the condition is one in a million.
Their parents Jodi and Matt Parry from Chorley, Lancashire were not aware that either of the girls has Down’s syndrome until they were a few weeks old.
Dad Matt explains, ‘I don’t think any of us will ever forget that day. The whole world had ended. Life was not how we planned it.’
Mum Jodi adds, ‘When the doctor took us to one side to give us the results the one thing he said to us was that he was sorry that Abigail and Isobel had Down’s syndrome. And to this day I’ll never know what he was sorry for. I think if I could ever meet him again I’d like to show him Abigail and Isobel and say, ‘why did you say sorry?’ because we wouldn’t change Abigail and Isobel for the world now.’
As well as physical problems, Down’s syndrome can cause different levels of learning difficulties. It is a genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.
Tests during pregnancy can indicate the likelihood of the baby being born with Down’s syndrome, and then parents are offered the option to terminate the pregnancy. Unsurprisingly this something that the Parry family find difficult to stomach.
Jodi says, ‘people have openly admitted to us that they thought they perhaps wouldn’t go through with the pregnancy if their child had Down’s syndrome and now they look at that differently because they’ve seen that there’s nothing to be scared of.’
‘They make everybody laugh, they make everybody smile so I think it’s just a lack of education. And I think also a lack of education from the professionals as well.’
Matt adds, ‘I don’t care biologically about the girls. I don’t care how many chromosomes they’ve got. I was more interested in will they walk? Will they talk? Will they interact?’
Now aged 5, Abigail and Isobel are flourishing within a mainstream school which they love attending.
Matt says, ‘I said from the day dot that we weren’t just going to fester as a family and wait for things to happen. Their progress will be slower but we’re still setting goals and we will still push them to achieve.’
Jodi adds, ‘I’m not going to say we’ve got great expectations and we think one will be the first person with Down’s syndrome to be a chartered accountant or something like that.’
Inspired by their incredible one in a million twins, the Parry family have set up a charity with a very special name to highlight the positives of having children with Down’s syndrome.
Jodi explains, ‘we went with Twincess because obviously they’re twins and princesses. It’s a celebration of Down’s syndrome and it’s just to dispel any myths that come with Down’s syndrome.’
It’s clear that Jodi and Matt, together with their 8-year-old son Finlay, wouldn’t change their one in a million twins for anything.
Matt says, ‘the girls have brought us together massively as a unit but also made us appreciate the here and now.’
‘What have I learned about Down Syndrome? I’ve learnt that what I knew before was wrong.’
Jodi adds, ‘the one thing I’ve learnt about Down’s Syndrome is that life with Down’s Syndrome is a life worth living.’
‘Now, there’s nothing in the world that could convince me to change these two. I wouldn’t change them for the world.’