(Reuters) – In surgery lasting more than 24 hours, a Texas hospital medical team has separated nearly 1-year-old twins who were joined at the abdomen and shared a liver, diaphragm, pelvis, intestines and the lining of the heart, officials said on Monday.
The girls, Knatalye Hope Mata and Adeline Faith Mata, born in April 2014, were separated on Feb. 17 at Texas Children’s Hospital, with a team including 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses.
“This surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center. He said this was the first successful separation surgery for conjoined twins with this particular configuration.
The team had been preparing for months for the complicated surgery, drawing up three-dimensional models of their organs and holding simulations of the surgery that was carried out in carefully choreographed stages, he said.
The team worked for about 23 hours on Knatalye and 26 hours on Adeline with the official separation occurring approximately 18 hours into the surgery, the hospital said.
Conjoined twins occur once every 200,000 births and most do not survive. About 40 percent to 60 percent of conjoined twins arrive stillborn, and about 35 percent live only one day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Mortality rates for twins who do live and then undergo separation vary, depending on their type of connection and the organs they share, it said.
The girls remain hospitalized and no release date has been set.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Orr in Houston; Editing by Doina Chiacu)