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Conjoined Twins Successfully Separated At A Philadelphia Hospital

14 June 2017, 7:08 am EDT By Andrew Norman Tech Times
Ten-month-old conjoined twins Erin and Abby Delaney were successfully separated from each other.  ( Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia )

Ten-month old conjoined twins Erin and Abby Delaney will finally be able to lie beside each other, after a successful separation.

On June 6, surgeons at the CHOP or Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were able to successfully separate the baby girls who are hailing from North Carolina. Conjoined twins are a rarity and the statistics for their survival is quite dismal.

Erin and Abby were joined to each other at the top of their heads, where they shared the same skull. This condition is known as craniopagus and seldom occurs in conjoined twins. The surgery lasted for about 11 hours and was led by neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer and plastic surgeon Jesse Taylor.

Apart from the two Philadelphia hospital surgeons, the twin's care and treatment team comprised roughly 30 members including nurses, physicians, neurosurgeons, and other staff specializing in reconstructive and plastic surgery.

Parents Of Philadelphia Conjoined Twins Elated After Surgery

At 11 weeks of pregnancy, Erin and Abby's parents Heather and Riley Delaney learned that they were going to have conjoined twins. However, at such an early stage it was difficult to assess whether the two could be separated surgically. However, at the time, the Delaneys contacted the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP.

During the 19th week of Heather's pregnancy the couple went to CHOP to evaluate if the babies could be separated. At the hospital, Heather underwent, fetal MRI, high-resolution fetal ultrasound, and fetal echocardiogram to assess the condition of her unborn babies.

The conjoined twins, Abby and Erin were born premature by 10 weeks on July 24, 2016. At the time of birth, both the babies weighed two pounds and one ounce and received special care at the N/IICU or Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit at CHOP. Before the decision was made to separate the conjoined twins, physicians at the CHOP developed unique exercises and treatments for the twins including occupational, physical, and speech therapy.

Heather is delighted to see both her babies safe and intends to throw a big party for them on their first birthday when they return home.

Philadelphia Conjoined Twins Separated

The actual surgery and reconstruction of the conjoined twins' skull was preceded by months of careful planning and preparation by the 30-member Philadelphia hospital team, which included health officials specializing in many areas of medicine.

"Separating conjoined twins is a very complex surgery followed by a long and complicated recovery, but we are very hopeful for a positive outcome," Dr. Taylor said.

This was the 23rd time that the Philadelphia hospital conducted surgery on conjoined twins for successful separation. However, Abby and Erin would be the hospital's first craniopagus pair.

In the first half of the surgery, the surgeons focused on separating the conjoined twins' common blood vessels and the dura, which is the tough membrane that protects our brain. Then they moved on to the most complex part of the surgery, which was the separation of the sagittal sinus. In the surgery's second stage, the team of doctors were divided into two. Each group was assigned to the care and reconstruction of one child.

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