Doctors at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City have successfully separated four-year-old Conjoined twins, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, after a 16-hour surgery.
Doctors pronounced the separation of the twins born with their bodies joined at the abdomen successful, but cautioned that they would have a long recovery period and would have to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery. The survival rate of the conjoined twins, also called Siamese Twins, is about 5 to 25% after separation. The twins shared kidney and a liver, besides being able to control one leg each.
The Hospital's Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Rebecka Meyers, said that the operation was a first of its kind in that this was first time conjoined twins sharing a kidney were separated.
Following the successful separation of the girls, the parents of the conjoined twins thanked the surgical team for their efforts. "We couldn't have asked for a better team. We owe them our lives and even more," they said in a posting on their website.
During the 16-hour surgery, the surgical team distributed the girls' single liver and separated their intestines, and each girl was given one leg, but one of the twins, Kendra, was given the single kidney, while the other has been placed on dialysis for four to six months until she is strong enough to accept a kidney transplant from her mother. The girls will have prosthesis for their missing leg as each girl was given one leg during the surgery.
Extensive preparations were done prior to surgery including mentally preparing the twins with the help of a child psychologist and also implanting expanding balloons into the girls to stretch skin and muscles to create enough tissue to close their abdomens after the surgery.
Bonnie Midget, Hospital spokeswoman, said the doctors said everything looked normal, "They are telling me that they expect everything to look as they expect it to look. The division of the tissue has been quite clear where they need to divide, because they had seen good pictures of where the blood flow was going," she added.
Separate reconstructive surgery to set right the twins' pelvic rings and several internal organs are currently going on, and Dr. Meyers said the girls would be kept in the intensive care for about a week and then in the hospital for at least month before considering sending them home.