Monday, September 24, 2007

Doctors to Separate Conjoined Twins

Doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital said they would attempt to separate 2-year-old twin girls who are conjoined at the chest and abdomen. Surgery on Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias of San Jose, Costa Rica, is expected to take place in late November, after their skin has been stretched to cover the large gap where they have been connected.

The survival rate for separation surgery for twins joined primarily at the chest - known as thoraco-omphalopagus twins - is about 50 percent, doctors said Thursday. But rates vary widely, depending in part on the extent of heart defects.

``We hope to send home two girls who are healthy and happy,'' lead surgeon Gary Hartman said. ``I can envision these girls, a few years from now, flipping through a photo album and calling mama and saying, 'Look mama! This is a picture of us when we were connected.'''

Since arriving in San Francisco on July 25, the girls have been receiving weekly injections of sterile saltwater into balloons placed beneath their skin. This procedure should stretch their skin to compensate for the hole that surgeons will cut into their abdomens.

The girls are connected at the right atria of their hearts, the chamber that receives blood from the rest of the body, and they share some blood and a single liver.

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