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Rare 'mono mono' identical twins born holding hands turning 7 on Mother's Day

Sisters who became viral sensation remain close
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Posted at 8:40 AM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 11:40:34-04

AKRON, Ohio — Jenna and Jillian Thistlethwaite are identical twins developing opposite personalities.

"Jenna is our more shy and quiet one," said their mother, Sarah Thistlethwaite. "Jillian is our more sassy one."

Despite their differences, the sisters from Orrville share a remarkable bond and an amazing story that continues to make people smile nearly seven years after their births.

On May 9, 2014, doctors from Akron Children's Hospital delivered the sisters at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center.

Moments after the deliveries, doctors noticed the twins were holding hands. Photographs of the touching moment went viral and warmed the hearts of everyone in the delivery room.

"It still gives me goosebumps when I look back at that picture," Sarah said. "It was one of those moments that you'll never forget and I look back at that picture even now and I can't believe it happened."

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The photo of the twin girls that went viral in 2014.

The couple experienced a rare mono mono pregnancy, which is considered high-risk and occurs only once in every 10,000 births. It happens when twins share the same placenta and amniotic sac.

The family invited WEWS to do a story on the pregnancy journey, including allowing access to the delivery room, but no one was prepared for the amazing hand-holding moment.

In fact, it remains the most viewed story in the history of the WEWS website, reaching an astounding 27 million people.

"You think at the time, 'This is awesome. I wish that people could see this.' And then bam, everybody did," Bill Thistlethwaite said.

The first-graders will turn seven on May 9, which will mark the first time their birthday lands on Mother's Day.

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The twin girls will be celebrating their 7th birthday on May 9, Mother's Day.

"It couldn't have been a better Mother's Day gift seven years ago and then again now," Sarah said.

The girls still hold hands often and their closeness is on display in other ways. Several times a week, Bill and Sarah will wake up and find them sleeping in the same bed event though they have separate beds.

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"They are just so close and they just want to be around each other," Sarah said.

The sisters, who like gymnastics and playing barbies, are now old enough to find past stories about them online.

"They can Google. On YouTube, they look up Thistlethwaite twins and they see each other and watch all the old videos and they think that's really cool," Sarah said.

"They talk about being famous. That's always funny," Bill added.

The couple's older son, Jaxon, who is in second grade, said he doesn't watch the videos and called all of the attention "weird."

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Jaxon with his two younger sisters.

One of the Akron Children's Doctors who delivered the twins, Dr. Katherine Wolfe, reunited with the family on Monday afternoon.

Dr. Wolfe has never seen a set of twins grab and hold hands after a delivery, and said that moment in 2014 will always be special.

"These are the moments that I relish, that make coming to work every day worthwhile," Dr. Wolfe said.

Jenna was born weighing four pounds, two ounces and Jillian weighed 3 pounds, 13 ounces. Jillian initially had more health concerns, but both girls are completely healthy now.

Bill and Sarah said it's special realizing their kids made the world smile for a moment in time and they can't wait to see what the future holds for the twins.

"How can they not be destined for something great? I just look forward to continuing to see them grow and see what they can do," Sarah said.

This story was originally published by Bob Jones at WEWS.