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Formerly conjoined twins celebrate good health on their eighth birthday

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Abby and Isabelle Carlsen turned eight on Friday, with plans to celebrate with a My Little Pony party. For friends, family, and thousands of strangers who have followed the twins since their birth, the news is good: they're taking piano lessons, losing their front teeth and happy to have an an American bulldog for a pet. In other words, they're typical second-graders.

Forum Communications carried an extensive feature of the Carlsen twins from Fargo. The two, described in the newspaper account as "bubbly blonde tornadoes," were born joined at the chest and abdomen. They spent 75 days at the Mayo Children’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn. before being surgically separated before they were 6 months old. Donations in the Fargo area to defray the family's medical bills totaled more than $50,000.

The family granted access to NBC News when the twins were infants. Parents Amy and Jesse Carlsen learned the twins were conjoined during the pregnancy. At the time, they were told that their chances of surviving until birth were just one in 100,000. But when the Star Tribune updated their story four years ago, as the family relocated from Fargo to Mandan, N.D, noting that "...if you didn't know the twins had been conjoined, both parents agree you'd have a hard time believing it."

The girls are healthy and have finally completed their medical care. Last summer, Belle had a gap in her sternum surgically repaired.

Said their mother: “They’re hoping that …”

“… it’s her last surgery,” their father Jesse said, finishing the sentence.

In September, a camera crew from the Mayo Clinic spent two days with the family, shooting footage for the clinic’s 150th anniversary celebration next year.

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