Conjoined Twins Successfully Separated, Doctors Believe Both Girls Will Recover Nicely

Surgeons from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston announced that two conjoined baby girls fused at the chest have been successfully separated after a year of planning and a seven-hour surgery. For the first time, Anna and Hope Richards are sleeping in separate cribs.

The girls were born in December of 2016 via C-section. An ultrasound had revealed months earlier that the girls would be conjoined. The 13-month-old babies have never left the hospital.

They shared a chest wall, heart lining, liver, diaphragm and major blood vessel, and keeping them alive in the NICU has been a challenge. The babies were also connected by the face, and spent their days staring at each other.

Separation, though risky, may have been their only hope. Massive planning efforts by a medical team made the separation possible. Some 75 medical specialists were involved, and they underwent numerous practice sessions.

It required months of using tissue expanders under the girls' skin, so that after the separation the children would have enough skin to cover their organs. The girls hearts and vessels had to carefully be disentangled.

“The success of this incredibly complex surgery was the result of our dedicated team members’ hard work throughout the last year," said Dr. Larry Hollier, surgeon-in-chief.

"Through simulations and countless planning meetings, we were able to prepare for situations that could arise during the separation. We are thrilled with the outcome and look forward to continuing to care for Anna and Hope as they recover."

Dr. Olutoye, a member of the miracle medical team, released a statement about the ordeal that the family has gone through, and how involved the staff became in their case.

"When they are conjoined twins, you can really share the family's joy and excitement," he said. "Those girls are over a year now and from the moment this family knew that they had conjoined twins, this has been a question in their mind: 'Will we ever get to this point? Is this day ever going to come?'"

"So not only did the day come but the hour came, and the minute came and so being part of that moment with them is always special," Dr. Olutoye concluded.

One concern was that the girls were so used to being face to face that they might be distressed upon waking to find their sister missing. To avoid alarming the children after they woke up from surgery, the hospital staff put pictures of each girl’s face in her sister’s crib.

Jill Richards, the relived mother, is overjoyed. “It’s an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds. We couldn’t be more thankful to the entire team at Texas Children’s for making this dream come true,” she said.

Jill and her husband, Michael, have been working with the medical team since Jill was pregnant, and that first ultrasound revealed that Anna and Hope would be conjoined. It’s been a long road for both parents.

Within a month, the babies are expected to be able to go home for the first time. At that point, the doctors think they will be able to go on to live healthy, happy lives.

Source: Little Things
Photo: YouTube

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