One-year-old twins who were born conjoined at the back of the head in Israel have now been successfully separated. Following the 12-hour surgery, both girls were able to see each other for the very first time—and the heartwarming moment was captured on video.
Their surgery marks the first time a separation surgery for conjoined twins was performed in Israel. Doctors involved in the surgery estimate that this particular operation has only been performed about 20 times around the world.
"Whenever you have two babies attached together with their brains and the vessels supplying the brains, it makes it even more complex and impossible for us neurosurgeons to expect and to know how to deal with it," Mickey Gideon, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Soroka Medical Center who led the surgery, told NBC News.
In the photos and the video of the girls, whose names have not yet been released, show them facing one another while lying in their hospital crib—just taking in the sight of their sister for the first time.
Israeli doctors separate conjoined twin girls www.youtube.com
The complex surgery required cranial reconstruction and scap grafts for both baby girls. Dr. Gideon says he had hoped to perform the surgery before they reached their first birthday, since it's such an important developmental year. The surgical team, which consisted of 50 people, had been planning the separation surgery since the babies were still in their mother's womb. After their birth at 34 weeks gestation, doctors tested and examined them to ensure their understanding of the girls brains and bodies was as precise as possible.
The surgical team also worked with high-tech companies to develop 3D models of the girls' anatomy and used virtual reality simulations to prepare for the surgery.
"They are recovering well, and they are neurologically ok," Gideon told NBC News. "Cognitively we can't estimate yet. We have to wait and examine them and see what happens."
Dr Owase Jeelani - who successfully separated the conjoined twins in Israel - just told me on @TimesRadio he’ll nev… https://t.co/wFVLUvrGgs
— Phil Williams (@PhilWilliams)
The twins are awake and responding post-surgery now. Initially, the girls were placed in separate cribs, but the moment they were placed next to one another is likely one no one at the hospital—including the girls' family—will ever forget. Dr. Owase Jeelani, who also helped perform the surgery, told Times Radio that the twins' mother was "shaking with joy" after she heard the separation was successful.
The girls are now alert, conscious and crying and have their heads bandaged. In the days following the surgery they were separated from each other to receive care and were placed in the same crib for the first time on Sunday.
"The first two days after the operation we saw that they were a little agitated, and when we put them together it was a wonderful moment to see how they became calm and quiet," said Gideon. "For the first time they were looking at each other after being attached at the back of their head."
Wishing these girls a speedy recovery so they can start going through life face-to-face—together.