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Formerly Conjoined Twins Now Thriving After 10-Hour Separation Surgery

by : Joe Harker on :
Formerly Conjoined Twins Now Thriving After 10-Hour Separation Surgery
Formerly Conjoined Twins Now Thriving After 10-Hour Separation Surgery (NBC News)

A pair of conjoined twins who were joined at the stomach for almost a year have been successfully separated after 10 hours of surgery.

Maggie Altobelli first realised she was having twins when she was 20 weeks pregnant and went for a scan.

She noticed her belly was larger than she expected it to be, and looking at the screen she could see there were two babies on the way.

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However, a doctor was called in to have a look and quickly identified that the twins were joined at the stomach, something she had never seen before in her career.

When the decision was made to separate the pair, Maggie and husband Don did not fully realise what they were getting in for.

Ultrasound scan (TODAY)
Ultrasound scan (TODAY)

Per NBC News, Maggie needed to see specialists and undergo tests to determine exactly how closely connected the twins were and whether it would be possible to separate them at all. If conjoined twins share a heart, for example, it makes separating them practically impossible.

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Further tests determined that the babies – nicknamed 'Hope' and 'Faith' by their parents before they were born – shared a diaphragm and were connected by the liver, making separation possible but still risky.

The Chicago-based couple moved to Philadelphia for the delivery and separation, choosing to work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia due to doctors there having experience with conjoined twins.

Conjoined twins (TODAY)
Conjoined twins (TODAY)

The 33-year-old gave birth to sisters Addison and Lilianna via Caesarean section on November 18, 2020.

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Fortunately, each twin had their own heart, removing one of the complications of separating them, but there were issues with breathing. Lilianna was the larger of the two, and when she started crying, Addison sometimes struggled to breathe.

Doctors spent plenty of time preparing the pair for their separation, including creating a 3D model of the girls' livers to show how they were interconnected and help work out how to disconnect them.

The 10-hour surgery took place on October 13, 2021, and was a resounding success, with the family able to move back to Chicago in December.

The children still need breathing tubes and like to be close to one another, but they are going to live normal, healthy and long lives.

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