Formerly Conjoined Twins and Their Sister Excited to 'Turn the Big 18' This Holiday Season
"They're just very giving little girls," Darla Keller says of her teenage daughters Mackenzie, Macey and Madeline Garrison
Triplets Mackenzie, Macey and Madeline Garrison have a lot to look forward to in the final weeks of 2020.
With the holidays, their 18th birthday and 2021 quickly approaching, mom Darla Keller tells PEOPLE that her three daughters — two of whom were formerly conjoined at the pelvis — are excited to celebrate, even if they have to stay at their Iowa home.
"We'll be home [for Christmas], but we started a tradition last year: The girls wanted to do name draws," says Keller, 50. "We didn't buy presents for everybody, we just did a name draw within our family, and so they requested we do that again this year."
"They're just very giving little girls, so they want to buy presents. And now they're working so they all have money and they think spending money is fun," Keller adds of her teenagers. "They're very generous."
It's just one of the ways the sisters stand out.
Macey and Mackenzie were born conjoined at the pelvis and were separated 10 months later by Dr. James Stein, chief medical officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, in a 24-hour surgery in 2003, PEOPLE previously reported.
Shortly after, the girls were adopted by Keller, who welcomed them into her Iowa home, alongside her three biological sons.
Though their surgery was successful, Macey and Mackenzie each have one leg and rely on prosthetics to get around.
Over the years, they've led normal lives while experiencing additional medical hardships. Most recently both Macey and Mackenzie underwent spinal surgery to correct severe scoliosis, their mom says.
"It was a really huge surgery. They put rods... all the way down their thoracic spine, from their neck to the small of their back. There were 10 vertebrae they fused," Keller explains. "That recovery was difficult."
"[It was] a very stressful time," she adds of the surgeries, which occurred in January and June. "They're doing well now. They each got released to be back to normal and they're not in pain anymore like they were."
When they "turn the big 18" on Dec. 16, Keller says her family is hoping to do an escape room together to mark the occasion. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, their plans remain up in the air.
"It's kind of a fun team-building thing that we’re going to try to do for their 18th birthday," Keller shares. "I'm not sure if it’s going to happen, but we're hoping. We'll probably just have to mask up."
RELATED VIDEO: Formerly Conjoined Twins and Their Sister Enjoy Being 'Normal' Teenagers 17 Years After Surgery
As for when they ring in the new year, Mackenzie, Macey and Madeline have their eyes set on two things: graduating high school and attending college.
"That's going to be our focus in 2021: getting graduated and getting scholarships because they all want to go to college," says Keller. "As parents, we have three other boys, so we haven't been able to save a ton of money."
"They work hard in school," she adds. "With the girls being unique and adopted, and just all the challenges they’ve had... we're hoping for maybe some academic scholarships, so we're going to be searching those out."
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