Houston doctors successfully separated 10-month old conjoined twins last week, reports KHOU. The 26-hour surgery, which was completed on Feb. 17 at Texas Children's Hospital, means that Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata are no longer joined at the chest and abdomen.
"This surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems,” Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children's Fetal Center, told KHOU.
The procedure, in the works for months, included 3-D modeling of the twin girls’ organs and simulations of the surgery.
The surgery separated the girls from their chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis, reported KHOU. The actual separation took 18 hours, but other elements of the surgery took several hours more.
The entire procedure required a team of 50 medical professionals, according to NBC’s Today Show, that included specialists in pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, urology, liver transplant surgery, orthopedic surgery and pediatric gynecology.
In 2006, Slate’s Daniel Engber reported how, by working in teams, doctors are able to separate twins.
A conjoined-twin operation can be broken down into many stages, like the initial incision, the work around the bones, separation of the blood vessels, and reconstructive plastic surgery. A different team of surgeons scrubs into the operating room for each stage, most of which take only a few hours to complete. That way, most of the surgeons don't end up working for more than four or five hours in a row.
You can watch the moment the babies’ parents Eric and Elysse Mata learned that the separation had occurred courtesy of the Today Show in the video above.