It has been ten years to the day that Clarence and Carl Aguirre, conjoined twins, were separated from one another. At the time, the Aguirre boys’s mother, Arlene Aguirre, had come from Salay, Philippines, to help both of her sons live. While in the Philippines, Arlene was told that one son would live and one would die. “I cannot choose that,” referring to what was deemed her choice to choose which son would survive and which one would not. Seeing that she would not setting for losing either son, she decided to come to the US to have her conjoined sons detached – in the hopes that both would live.

The surgery took place on August 4, 2004, and doctors had to detach her sons from the head. They shared 5-6 centimeters of the same brain. “When you get beyond 1 or 2 centimeters, one or both kids takes a hit,” said Dr. James Goodrich, the lead surgeon in the conjoined twins’ surgery.

And Dr. Goodrich was right. Ten years later, the once-conjoined twins are now 12 years old. While Clarence is an energetic kid who plays an iPad, gives high-fives to just about everyone he meets, and loves video games, his brother Carl has little use in his left arm and leg, suffers seizures, sits in a wheelchair, and lets out a few words from time to time. Still, Arlene is thankful that she got a result she was told it was impossible to demand: that both boys live. Clarence is “going to be a typical adult,” says the Montefiore Medical Center Children’s Hospital Genetics Chief.

As for both once-conjoined twins Clarence and Carl, they now live with their mother Arlene in The Bronx, and she hopes that they can get American citizenship down the line (they are currently in the US on a medical visa). Clarence and Carl do not like Filipino food, instead preferring the American way of life. “They like spaghetti, mashed potatoes, and – McDonald’s, of course,” she told CBS News.