Conjoined twins are twins who shared an embryo that only partially split during gestation. The condition is extremely rare and most conjoined twins sadly don’t make it. That being said, some conjoined twins do survive, and their stories are amazing.
Typically, conjoined twins are joined at the chest, pelvis or buttocks, but some can be joined at the skull, and they may share organs.
Conjoined twin children who do survive birth might have the chance of being surgically separated, but success of the procedure varies and depends on various factors.
Erin and Abby Delaney were just an example of such conjoined twins. And on June 6th the two girls were successfully separate at Children’s Hostpial of Philadelphia, to the delight of their parents. “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. Jesse Taylor said.
The two girls were conjoined at the head, and the surgery was actually a series of procedures to ensure the girls the best possibility of a successful separation. Using a process called distraction, the doctors were able to slowly separate Erin and Abby’s skulls.
Then one day, after an 11 hour surgery, the girls finally became independent of one another. They continued to be monitored and treated by many different kinds of doctors. There is still a lot more treatment to come but says their mother, Heather Delaney, “The doctors have a lot of hope for what the girls can do. But we won’t really know what kind of deficits they have until they’re about three. For now, they’re doing fantastic.”
The hospital responsible for this amazing feat of medicine also commented. “The ability to plan and carry out this type of surgery is testament to the skill and expertise available here at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said Dr. N. Scott Adzick. The Surgeon-in-Chief at the hospital went on to say, “I’m extremely proud of Dr. Heuer, Dr. Taylor and the entire CHOP team, and I’m thrilled that Erin and Abby have a promising future because their courageous parents entrusted their daughters to our care.”
“When we go home, it’s going to be a big party,” said Heather Delaney, said in a statement released by the hospital. “Welcome home, baby shower, first birthday.”