4-year-old conjoined twins were separated after a lengthy surgery. 3 weeks later, they have been moved out of the ICU. According to their father, it is an indication of their recovery.
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin were born in February 2002. They were conjoined at the trunk and shared several internal organs, including only one kidney and 2 legs. Due to the various medical complications caused by the only kidney, the surgery for separation of the girls was postponed till this year.
"They're spirits are very high, they're happy as can be," Jake Herrin, 26, of North Salt Lake said at a news conference Monday.
"This morning they had a water fight with syringes," he said. "They were squirting me, they were squirting nurses, they were squirting each other."
The blonde, blue-eyed girls were successfully separated after a 26-hour surgery performed by the doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center. The surgery was started on August 7. The single pelvis was divided and reconstructed with each girl retaining one leg. The single kidney was retained in Kendra and Malivah was placed on dialysis till she gets a transplant later this year. According to Jake Herrin, the dialysis treatment went off better than expected and was administered alternate days.
The separation is supposed to be the first successful surgery on conjoined twins with shared kidney, according to Dr. Rebecka Meyers, who led the eight-member surgical team. On the whole, the twins surgery wounds are healing well, with only minor obstacles, mainly for Malivah. Surgeons had to replace the first implanted dialysis catheter. She did not respond properly to a combination of seven pain medications.
"I thought there would be bigger bumps in the road, but we've not really had anything too serious," Jake Herrin said. "We couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
He said that it was still uncertain as to when the girls might be ready to be discharged. The time taken for the wounds to heal and how well they eat will decide it. Their appetite had been restricted by heavy medication and they fed through feeding tubes.
According to their father, the family is preparing for the homecoming of the twins. They have bought another bed, another car seat and extra clothes for them. The twins seemed to have psychologically accepted their separation. But their father said that it revealed their difference in personalities and emotional interdependence.
"Kendra has always been more dominant and more eager for separation, while Maliyah was quieter, seemed more hesitant about separation and has always looked to her sister to make things OK," he said.
"Kendra has said she misses (being conjoined)," Jake Herrin said. "But we talk about it and tell them that when they go home, they can put their old shirts on and pretend they're still stuck together. They think that's funny."