Another amazing example of the power of genetics

IDENTICAL twins Craig and Brenton Gurney, 38, were inseparable as children, shared a bedroom until they were 22, and have played in the same soccer team since they were five. They even ended up marrying women named Nicole. "We've always been really, really close," Brenton says.

If extrasensory perception exists between twins it was Craig who was the intuitive one. From 2700 kilometres away he once divined when his brother had a life-threatening mystery rash, and when he had dislocated a shoulder.

So the story of the Gurney twins is even more remarkable because it was Brenton who started getting the persistent headaches. It was Brenton who persuaded hale and hearty Craig to join a study of twins (looking into mental health and resilience) because it included an MRI scan.

The MRI test picked up no abnormalities in Brenton's brain. But Craig, who never suffers headaches, got the shock news: a massive and rare tumour in the base of his skull.

"I was hoping they had mixed up the MRI results and got the wrong twin," Brenton says.

When Craig underwent a complex 10½ hour operation to remove a 4.2-centimetre tumour, his wife and family in the waiting room cast meaningful looks at Brenton as if he were a barometer on his brother's progress.

"It was unspoken but everyone was looking at me," says Brenton, who had no sixth sense about the events transpiring on the operating table.

A year since the operation at Westmead Private Hospital, and following two months of intensive radiation therapy, Craig says: "Ultimately Brenton saved my life."

The twins - Brenton from West Pennant Hills, Craig from nearby Mount Colah - have participated in twin studies since their mother registered them with the Australian Twin Registry soon after birth.


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