Mackenzie, Macey, and Madeline Garrison are your average set of teenage triplets.
Today, the lives of the three teens are pretty normal. At the time of their birth, however, they were a very special case. Mackenzie and Macey were once conjoined twins, attached at the pelvis.
The two girls each have one leg. Today, they’re living their best lives with the help of crutches and prostheses. The girls were separated several months after they were born by Dr. James Stein, chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, in a 24-hour surgery in 2003. They were just 10 months old when they underwent the gruelling process.
Mackenzie, Macey, and Madeline Garrison are like so many teenage girls. The 17-year-old triplets had a very fascinating start to life, however. When they were born in 2010, Mackenzie and Macey were attached at the pelvis.
“I do not see myself as special,” Mackenzie told People (The TV Show!).
“I just think of myself as a 17-year-old girl who’s going to high school, who wants to get a job in a career that she loves, and wants to get married and wants to have kids.”
She and Macey were born sharing a third leg. Today, the two girls get around using crutches, each with one leg.
The girls were born with other complications, as well. Their birth parents didn’t seek medical care during pregnancy. They were unable to care for the triplets due to substance abuse issues.
Macey and Mackenzie spent their first 10 months conjoined.
The girls underwent surgery to be separated. Dr. James Stein, chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, accomplished the feat in a 24-hour surgery in 2003.
“There’s rarely a week that goes by that I don’t in some way think about them,” Dr. Stein said.
“I remember watching them shoot through the halls here with their crutches, and to see them riding horses and taking on as normal a life as they possibly could, is really, truly exciting,” he continued.
The girls were able to do that in large part due to their adopted family’s support. Darla Keller and Jeff Garrison adopted the triplets shortly after the surgery. They joined their three biological sons.
There have been additional hardships throughout the years. The girls had to overcome learning delays to be on an even playing field with their peers. There have also been other medical hardships, such as spinal infusions.
The future is bright for the triplets. They’re enjoying their senior year of high school and looking forward to college.
Mackenzie is interested in agriculture and plant anatomy but doesn’t know what direction she’ll take it in.
Macey loves working with kids and is thinking of becoming a kindergarten teacher. Madeline wants to be a nurse and, eventually, a nurse practitioner, with a focus on helping geriatric patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“I think there’s factors of just how I’ve grown up and the people that I’ve surrounded myself with are a lot into medicine,” she said.
The triplets haven’t seen Dr. Stein in 10 years, but they still keep in touch. They think he’s “the coolest person ever.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience following the girls themselves and staying in touch with them,” Dr. Stein said.
“But more recently, getting letters from the kids as we had intermittently, it’s been really rewarding in that sense as well.”
Though their story has interested people for a long time, the triplets truly see themselves as average teenagers.
“I don’t want people to know us at our school as the girls that have one leg and are famous because of their story,” Macey noted.
“I just want to be myself and go out in public and I want to make new friends. I’ll share my life story, I don’t mind sharing it, but I don’t want it to be a huge thing.”