TWINS WHO SHARE A BRAIN Airing on Thursday, October 14 at 9 pm ET on CBC-TV
TWINS WHO SHARE A BRAIN Airing on Thursday, October 14 at 9 pm ET on CBC-TV

Twins who share a brain -- documentary

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TWINS WHO SHARE A BRAIN is the story of one year in the life of the most unique set of twins ever born in Canada. The Hogan twins have struggled to survive since they were conceived in the womb. Statistically, the twins had just a 20% chance of being born alive and if they cleared that hurdle there was a 75% chance they would die within 48 hours.

Even though they have now reached their third birthday, their survival is far from assured.

Seizures have gripped the girls and sent them to death’s doorstep. Their doctors are operating under new rules...few people have had the opportunity to see craniopagus twins, let alone treat them. Every test administered, every operation the girls undergo, puts them into new uncharted territory.

Many craniopagus twins share brain matter but in most cases it’s an insignificant amount with no impact on function or consciousness. But in the case of Tatiana and Krista Hogan, earlier MRI scans suggested something unique in the human form. They have a well-defined bridge between the thalamus, the key-switching centre of the brain. This is where all senses (apart from smell) are received before being passed on to the higher levels of the brain for processing into the senses of touch, sight, taste and hearing.

The ramifications of this are two-fold. It means any attempt to separate them would almost certainly result not only in the death of Krista, but also in severe brain damage to her sister, Tatiana. But more incredibly, it opens up the possibility that both sisters could be using each other’s senses. As their physician, Dr. Cochrane explains, it’s only now that the twins are older that functional MRI techniques can determine the level of communication between the brains at the sensory level. The neuro—psychological team prepare for what could be a medical first.

However, already there is plenty of evidence of some level of sharing of the senses – particularly sight. Both Doug, the twins’ grandfather, and Felicia, their mother, have observed Tatiana ‘zoning out’, her eyes becoming transfixed in an almost hypnotic state when Krista is being fed a visual stimulus that Tatiana cannot see. Felicia firmly believes that at those times Krista is using her sisters’ eyes to see what Tatiana is seeing.

Against all odds, these twins came into this world and have not only survived, but thrived to the amazement of their medical team. Their story is one that will change our understanding of human consciousness.

TWINS WHO SHARE A BRAIN was produced by Gabriel Films North Inc., an independent production company based in Kelowna, B.C. Directed and photographed by David McIlvride, the one hour documentary skillfully captures the struggles the Hogan twins have had to overcome.

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