Separated conjoined twins return home

January 22, 2008 7:24:27 PM PST
In November, doctors on the Peninsula predicted a 50-50 chance of survival for conjoined twins undergoing a complicated operation to separate them. Today, the girls are happy, healthy and ready to head home to Costa Rica.

Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias are just getting used to being a part. However, their individual personalities are shining through.

Yurelia and Fiorella were joined at the abdomen and chest. They shared a liver and the right atriums of their hearts were connected. It took nine hours of surgery and several follow up procedures for them to be considered healthy, individual two year old girls.

Palo Alto doctors say the surgical procedures are done at the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. They don't believe the twins need physical therapy because they have 9 brothers and sisters waiting for them back home in Costa Rica to keep them active.

Although, separated, both are still connected emotionally. Their mother says they sleep together and look for each other when they're awake.

Their doctor, Gary Hartman, says his experience with four previous separation surgeries on conjoined twins helped make this one successful.

"This operation went very smoothly because of the previous operations. We knew what to expect," says Dr. Gary Hartman, Lucille Packard Children's Hospital.

Doctor's still have to perform a second procedure to reconstruct Fiorella's chest.

"These are all unique. Unless you've been there before, you don't know is where things are going to be and how they're going to be attached," says Hartman.

For Fiorella and Yurelia, they only have one more destination: home.