Conjoined twins successfully separated

(Lucile Packard Children's Hospital)
November 2, 2011 1:13:39 AM PDT
A team of surgeons at Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital successfully performed a complicated surgery to give conjoined 2-year-old twins new freedom and a new life.

Right now, the twins are in intensive care, sedated and on ventilators, and they have no idea they are separated and can now lead separate lives.

Tuesday night, the twins' mother, Ginady Sabuco, said her family would be eternally grateful to the doctors who separated the girls.

The surgery, involving some 30 medical personnel, was began around 6 a.m. Surgeons said "everything went smoothly" and although it took longer than the expected eight hours, that was normal and "things basically could not have gone better."

Angelina and Angelica Sabuco were attached at the chest and abdomen. The first hour of surgery was preparation, followed by six hours of separating the twins, and finally, two to three hours of reconstruction on their bodies.

It's a long and tedious process, and there will be a significant recovery period, but the girls had one major thing going for them.

"We can determine... the hearts are separate, so that's a great relief for us," said pediatric radiologist Frandics Chan, MD. "The lungs are separate, [but] the livers are joined and so are their diaphragms."

This was doctor Gary Hartman's sixth separation of conjoined twins. The last one was in 2007 and it was also a successful surgery. But this time, surgeons used newer technology when separating the liver and special plates, made just for these girls, were used to re-enforce the sternum.

"I explained to them, 'You are like this [places hands together], and soon you will be separated,'" said Ginady. "But I think they didn't understand yet."

Dr. Gary Hartman, the main pediatric surgeon, has done five separation surgeries. The last one at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital was in 2007 and it was more complicated. Those twins are doing well.

Angelina and Angelica were born in the Philippines but they now live in San Jose with their parents and 10-year-old brother.

And more surgeries are not expected for Angelina and Angelica. Doctors expect the twins to stay in ICU for a week, then move to a normal hospital room for another week of recovery.


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