When expecting a baby, most families just hope for a healthy child. But not everyone chooses genetic screening before birth. Justin Ackerman and Savannah Combs from Jacksonville, Florida, welcomed premature twins on May 12, 2021. They knew one of their babies might have Down syndrome but decided not to undergo additional testing. Baby girls Mckenli and Kennadi Ackerman were both born with Down syndrome, making them incredibly unique.
The likelihood of twins both having Down syndrome is extremely low, so the parents were shocked but thrilled that both their daughters were healthy and happy. Due to their early arrival, the twins had to spend extra time in the hospital, making it extra special when they finally got to go home with their mom and dad.
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. The lives of people with Down syndrome can vary greatly, with some achieving high school graduation, pursuing higher education, and finding employment, while others require more assistance with financial and legal matters and may never live independently. Regular check-ups and health screenings are recommended for people with Down syndrome throughout their lives.
The “Rare” Twins
Every child is special, but Mckenli and Kennadi are truly rare. Dr. Pamela Trapane, the medical director of Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Duran Genetics Center in Jacksonville, Florida, described the twins being born with Down syndrome as “exceedingly rare.” For every 1,000 twin pregnancies, only about two will have at least one baby with Down syndrome. However, the chance of both twins having Down syndrome is about one in 1 to 5 million.
When they received the diagnosis, the parents reacted differently. Combs’s husband, Ackerman, was “very emotional,” while Combs herself was just happy that her babies were here. They had been informed of the high chance of one of their babies having Down syndrome before they were born but decided against further genetic testing to avoid the risk of miscarriage associated with the procedure. Each prenatal appointment where the babies were alive was a blessing for Combs.
In January 2022, the twins were reaching milestones like no other, closely monitored by attend therapy sessions every week. Crawling was just around the corner for these determined little girls.
Mckenli and Kennadi, The Adorable Duo
These twins are incredibly adorable and bring immense joy to their parents. Combs describes them as having distinct personalities. Kennadi is a ray of sunshine, while Mckenli is a total diva. Combs loves her daughters unconditionally, even captioning one picture of them with, “Mk will never smile well sometimes lol.”
In an interview with News4Jax when the twins were five months old, Combs explained that they were mono di twins, meaning they had their own sacs but shared the same placenta, making them identical. This combination is already rare, and when you factor in Down syndrome, the odds become one in 2 million.
Smashing Stigma and Spreading Awareness
Raising a child with Down syndrome can be challenging, as they are often treated differently due to their appearance. However, Combs and her family are determined to break the stigma and negativity surrounding Down syndrome. They started a TikTok channel to share their journey and promote awareness.
Unfortunately, along with the love and support they received, there were also negative comments from some TikTok users. Undeterred, Combs responded to one particular comment, stating that God knew what he was doing by choosing her as the girls’ mother. She emphasized that her babies are normal, loved unconditionally, and living a wonderful life in her eyes.
Spreading Love and Positivity
Combs wants people to know that children born with Down syndrome are no less than anyone else. They have feelings, beating hearts, and the ability to learn and grow. They may achieve milestones at a different pace, but they will get there. Combs admires her feisty and happy little girls, who bring so much joy into their lives.
The journey is not always easy for families raising children with Down syndrome, but Combs and her family are paving the way for acceptance and inclusivity. They are showing the world that these beautiful twins deserve all the love and happiness in the world.
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