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CBS Austin reports for the first time in medical history at a North Texas children’s hospital, conjoined twins were separated after months of being face-to-face after they were born.
On Monday, JamieLynn and AmieLynn Finley became the first conjoined twins ever to be separated at Cook Children’s Medical Center in an 11-hour procedure months in the making.
In order for the impossible to occur, dozens of medical experts were required to manifest this modern miracle.
“We went through the scary stuff,” said James Finley who is the father of the twins.
Parents Finley and Amanda Arciniega say when they found out they were pregnant with twins, things took a turn.
“So sure enough when we go she was like yeah there’s no separation, they’re conjoined. On the ride home, we were quiet and it was kind of sad,” said Arciniega.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, conjoined twins are twins that are born with their bodies physically connected. Conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 60,000 births.
“This was the first separation of conjoined twins at Cook Children’s in its 105-year history. So it’s obviously a big deal for us,” Dr. Jose Iglesias said.
It was an emotional 11 hours for the parents, friends, and family. They were notified after long hours of waiting that their two baby girls had been successfully separated and were on two separate beds.
The sisters were born in October conjoined at birth by the lower chest and the majority of the abdomen. The two also shared a liver.
Approximately 70 percent of conjoined twins are female, and most are stillborn. Approximately 75 percent of conjoined twins are joined at least partially in the chest and share organs with one another.
Medical experts from multiple fields spent 11 hours in surgery separating them.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, conjoined twins are caused by two embryos that are joined together during fertilization, resulting in twins that are physically connected, most commonly at the abdomen, chest or head.
“We’re grateful for the team that planned and orchestrated and plotted every step by step by step to make sure that this was a safe and successful procedure,” a spokesperson at Cook Children’s said.
“Our hope is for them to continue to grow and develop normally as two individuals but I have a feeling there will still be some sibling rivalry,” Dr. Mary Frances Lynch said.
Their primary focus is breathing support and pain control for the next few days.
As separated twins recover after surgery, they are closely followed by nutritionists, developmental pediatricians and other specialists to ensure their ability to thrive and grow.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, since 1995, 135 pairs of conjoined twins have been referred to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, and 64 pairs have undergone prenatal evaluation.
Not all conjoined twins are candidates for separation, and the success rates for separating conjoined twins vary depending on the connection.
In 1955, neurosurgeon Dr. Harold Voris of Mercy Hospital in Chicago performed the first successful procedure separating conjoined twins.