The Little Marias
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TOOK THE COMMITMENT AND HEART OF A CARING UNIVERSITY AND ITS PEOPLE
TO HELP TWO BABY GIRLS FROM GUATEMALA
Marina Dundjerski '94
Photography by Mario de Lopez and Scott Quintard
Peter Morrison with twins Maria Teresa and Maria de Jesús.
MOST 1-YEAR-OLDS, TWINS MARIA TERESA AND MARIA DE JESÚS
enjoy playing with toys, love the taste of chocolate frosting dabbed
on their tongues and can say a few words like mama, papa and agua.
To capture attention, Maria Teresa, the more outgoing of the two,
will belt out a stream of Ay yay yay ya yay! Or she will blow kisses.
Maria de Jesús, much shyer than her sister, quietly gazes
up at her mother.
Las Mariítas the little Marias, as they've been affectionately
dubbed in their native Guatemala are not like most twins:
They are conjoined, their heads fused to each other at a 120-degree
they roll, they roll together, one flipping the other. When they
play, it is often with their feet, pushing or pulling, with amazing
dexterity, the knobs of a Fisher-Price toy attached to the rails
of their hospital crib.
Their union is a condition to which they've somewhat adjusted. Even
as Maria de Jesús sleeps, thumb in mouth, her legs are pushing
to accommodate her larger twin, Maria Teresa, who is awake and scrambling
it is also a condition that could, if they are not watched constantly,
hurt or kill one of them. One moment Maria Teresa tries to stand,
pulling her sister up with her. But she quickly falls and Maria
de Jesús lands facedown on the bed. Round-the-clock care
is essential as they await the surgery at UCLA's Mattel Children's
Hospital on August 5, an operation that their parents and doctors
and virtually the entire population of Guatemala hope
will help them to live independent, normal lives.