14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Couple Vow To Keep Unborn Baby That Has Two Faces And Two Brains

Nine Network

Parents of an unborn child which has two faces and two brains are defying doctors' advice to terminate the pregnancy.

Renee Young and Simon Howie, from Sydney, Australia, were expecting twins but were an ultrasound scan revealed only one child, but with two perfectly symmetrical faces and two brains connected to the one brain stem.

Three-dimensional scans show the child has two legs, two arms and one body and all its vital organs, including a strong beating heart.

Doctors told the couple they should not keep the child 'because it would be looked upon by the public as a freak'.

But despite that advice, Renee and Simon have decided to go through with the birth and 'surround' the child' with people who love.

Talking to Nine Network's A Current Affair, Renee described her unborn child, now 19 weeks old, as 'healthy. The heartbeat's beautiful. The brain activity 's good in both brains'.

The condition, an extreme form of conjoined twins known as craniofacial hyperhidrosis or diprosopus, is so rare that only 35 cases have ever been recorded. None has survived.

Nine Network

Despite the medical unlikelihood of the baby surviving past infancy, the couple has decided to surround her with 'the love' of their large family of seven children.

Simon said they had refused to end the pregnancy on 'moral' grounds.

He said: "We thought it was the same as bringing home a child with autism or Down's syndrome. I don't really believe in terminating a baby if it's healthy and growing fine."

Renee added: "Everything happens for a reason."

Maternal foetal specialist Greg Kesbytold the programme that he had seen several conjoined twins in his career but none quite like this.

He said: "It's probably the rarest of all the conjoined twins, you'd be thinking numbers of one in a million to one in two million for this kind of anomaly."

Dr Kesby said there was a good chance the couple's child would not survive to a live birth but if she did, treatment could prove costly.

But Renee and Simon said they would 'cross that bridge as it comes'.

Renee, who is on a disability pension for her severe rheumatoid arthritis and is looked after by Simon, who draws a carer's pension, said: "If we have to go back to work, we will."