Rose Siggins, nee Homan – Extraordinary People
Rose Siggins of Pueblo, Colorado has been obsessed with engines since childhood. She’s carved herself a niche in the male-dominated world of auto mechanics. Rose is a racing driver, but what makes her really remarkable is her medical condition, she has just half a body. Born with a rare bone disorder, Rose has stunned her doctors with her ability to overcome obstacles. Always pushing boundaries, she’s never taken no for an answer, Rose has literally adapted to survive.
For 33 years, she’s refused to accept limitations but, in the worst year of her life has the woman with half a body pushed herself too far? After a lifetime in the media spotlight Rose Siggins is now at the height of her media celebrity. The condition that’s made Rose famous is sacral agenesis which causes malformation of the spine in the womb, preventing proper linkage with the sacrum, the centre of the pelvis. Rose is rare, she has a very short spine and she’s survived to adulthood.
Rose became a celebrity at the age of ten. The local TV station filmed the incredible life of the girl whose useless legs had been removed to increase her mobility. But, away from the cameras, the girl with half a body found herself to be a target. She recounts “The kids were mean to me, just because they didn’t know me or were scared of me, so most of them would resort to name calling”.
Rose grew up with an attitude and personality that won her friends and admirers. In her twenties she met Dave Siggins, and together they took a decision that would risk her life. No-one with sacral agenesis had ever dared have a baby. Only with a rare form of caesarean, in which the uterus is cut from top to bottom, was the birth of Luke Siggins possible. This miracle child is now eight years old.
Luke’s birth had threatened Rose’s life and challenged her obstetrician, Dr Kevin Weary, so he was astonished when, in 2005, she called with plans for a second pregnancy! In due course, a scan revealed that she was pregnant with a daughter and Rose chose the name Shelby after her favourite sports car. She considers “When I was pregnant with Luke, physically I had no problems, but with Shelby no such luck”. Within weeks she was confined to bed.
By Christmas she was able to get out of bed. She was on steroids to speed Shelby’s growth in the expectation of a premature delivery. But by January the 10th she was in excruciating pain. Believing her uterus was tearing apart, the family took off for the hospital. Dave recalled the pact they had made should they face the ultimate dilemma “We just decided that she would let them save the baby and it was OK if they let her go”.
The woman famous for pushing the boundaries went into surgery believing she might have pushed her luck too far. She’d been warned that the pregnancy could kill her. It looked like the worst might come true. Dr Weary talks about the procedure “Rose’s caesarean section was quite difficult. We encountered a lot of scar tissue, that meant it took us 30 minutes to cut through to the uterus. This is a procedure that normally takes less than a minute. That’s important because while you’re putting mom to sleep you’re also putting baby to sleep”. Dave also comments “The longer it takes the more effect the anaesthetic has on the baby”.
The delivery is over and Dr Weary is concerned “In that whole process, Rose bled about 80% more than most people do and yet she probably started with 20% less blood volume because of her body type” Shelby is not breathing and is being resuscitated in paediatrics. Medics get Shelby breathing and she is now healthy but, Rose was still on the danger list.
After five days Rose can return home but, she is immobile. When Luke had been born, Rose had relied on the full support of her mother, Cecelia, who has now been dead for five years. After five months of bed rest, Rose is exhausted and recalls that her mother would have told her to get up and get on, taking one step at a time.
The first step Rose took was into the garage “My car, my Mustang, is my psychologist. Its where I go to do most of my deep thinking, its where I go to think out load. I like to have these moments to myself”.
About Shelby “I nearly died for her, but it was worth it. I’d do it again if I had to. She has allowed me to put life into perspective and know that I’m not superhuman and I do have limitations. Without her wanting me, needing me and crying for me, I may not have come back so fast”.
Now, Rose Siggins the superwoman with half a body is back to full strength and taking control of her life.
First on her list is a journey, an emotional one. She is taking the family to the neighbouring state of Nebraska where her father, Jim Homan, was born and where he has a brother Jack who he’s seen just once since childhood. Jim’s always dreamed of a reunion but his health is failing. He has emphysema and Alzheimer’s. The journey involves a long road trip and a supply of oxygen but, these challenges just make Rose all the more determined to make her father’s dream come true.
Rose Siggins has always used vehicles to escape her worries, but right now she needs to acknowledge them. The aches and pains that result from her lifestyle are causing concern. She’s never heeded calls to take it easy, because her mobility is her obsession, but now its in question. Her doctor, Dr Matthew Simonich, has ordered X-rays so he can make an assessment of the woman with half a body.
For the first time, X-rays reveal the remarkable inside story of Rose Siggins. Her spine is just a few inches long with no connection at all to her partial pelvis and her organs are contained in what is effectively a structureless torso. The X-rays also show that she is beginning to get arthritis in her left shoulder and her elbows have adapted and grown stronger after years of walking on her hands.
CREDITS: All of the above information came from the UK Channel 5 “Extraordinary People” series.