When Jadon and Anias McDonald emerged from a life-saving surgery one month ago, their mother Nicole could barely believe the sight.
She had spent the last 13 months since their birth in countless hospital visits because her twins, born with the tops of their heads fused together, had narrowly survived dozens of medical complications throughout their first year of life.
But Jadon and Anias McDonald, twins conjoined at the crown of their heads, never caught a glimpse of their closest companion. In October, the 13-month-old boys were successfully separated in a grueling, life-threatening 27-hour operation at Montefiore Hospital. But when an arduous surgery separated the two, giving each the chance at new independence, even she had trouble processing what their new separate existences would mean.
The pair will be moved to a rehab facility shortly after Thanksgiving, six weeks after surgery. It is the fastest recovery for separation of craniopagus twins (conjoined at the head) in history, beating the previous record of eight weeks.
Jadon is already ready to move, as he is now vibrant, active, and energetic, pulling at his bandages and playing with anyone who enters the ward. Anias, who was already struggling before the operation, is having more difficulties, regularly contracting viruses and infections.
The operation was performed by Goodrich, a neurosurgeon who specializes in separating conjoined twins at the head. Dr Oren Tepper, a plastic surgeon, was in the room to reconstruct the skulls and stitch each head closed.
The team has spent months practicing and planning their strategy using a physical 3D model of the boys' heads, plus computerized 3D modeling, where they can look at different scenarios.