A team of surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully separated conjoined twin girls after an 11-hour surgery.
According to the hospital, 10-month-old sisters Erin and Abby Delaney of North Carolina are now recovering in the intensive care unit, after the operation was completed last week, ABC News reports.
The procedure was carefully planned out, with medical staff marking equipment and monitors green and purple – one color for each baby girl. In a news statement, Dr. Jesse Taylor said,
Separating conjoined twins is a very complex surgery followed by a long and complicated recovery, but we are very hopeful for a positive outcome.
Taylor is a plastic surgeon, and along with neurosurgeon Dr. Gregory Heuer, headed the 30-person team made up of doctors from various disciplines, including neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and anesthesiology. Both doctors are also faculty members of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, CBS News reports.
This is the 23rd instance that the hospital has successfully separated conjoined twins over the past 60 years. However, this is the first time they separated infants joined at the top of their heads, called craniopagus, which is the rarest form of conjoined twins.
The twins shared blood vessels and a protective membrane around their brains, which the team carefully took apart. The doctors then split into two groups to perform reconstruction on each child.
The Delaneys were born 10 weeks premature in July, via cesarean section. Now, they are in separate beds for the first time in their lives. Doctors say additional surgery may be likely.
Heather Delaney, Erin and Abby’s mother, said, “When we go home, it’s going to be a big party. Welcome home, baby shower, first birthday.”
The twins will stay in the hospital for now. Their post-surgery team includes developmental pediatricians and nutritionists to help the girls thrive individually. Heather and husband Riley expect to bring their girls home later this year.