Conjoined ten-month-old twin girls, who were connected at the chest and abdomen, were separated in Texas after a grueling operation that had never been successfully performed before.
Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata were born last April in Lubbock, Texas, to parents Elysse and John Eric.
The couple knew that their baby girls would be conjoined and when they were born, doctors found that they shared the same chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Mother Elysse Mata goes to see one of her daughters in recovery and gives the thumbs up after her conjoined twins were successfully separated.
2. Doctors and family members gather around the other girl as she recovers from surgery. The operation to separate them lasted a total of 26 hours.
3. The twins, pictures before the surgery were connected at the chest and abdomen and shared several vital organs including the liver, lungs and intestines.
Earlier this month, a 26-member medical team, including 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses, operated to separate the 10-month-old girls at the Texas Children’s Hospital.
The marathon 26-hour operation marked the first time twins conjoined at the chest and abdomen in this way had been successfully separated.
Their mother Elysse said she can’t thank the surgeons enough for giving her babies the chance to live separate lives. She said:
We know how much planning and time went into this surgery and we are so blessed to be at a place like Texas Children’s where we have access to the surgeons and caretakers that have made this dream a reality.
We also want to express our gratitude to all of the people that have prayed and provided support to our family over the last 10 months.
4. The girls’ father John Eric struggles contain his emotion after both of his daughters survived the operation, which had never before been attempted.
5. Mrs. Mata strokes one of her daughter’s hair after the surgery earlier this month. Both girls are still recovering in Texas Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit.
6. Mrs. Mata struggles to hold back her tears of happiness, saying she can’t thank the surgeons enough for allowing her daughters to live separate lives.
To prepare them for the surgery, Knatalye and Adeline underwent a five-hour procedure in December to insert custom-made tissue expanders into their chest and abdomen. These helped to stretch the babies’ skin to prepare them for the separation surgery.
Models of the babies’ organs were also created so doctors could perform simulations of the surgery, prior to the actual operation.
During the surgery, the team worked for around 23 hours on Knatalye and for 26 on Adeline, with the official separation occurring 18 hours into the procedure.
7. Mr. and Mrs. Mata personally thank some of the medical team that operated on their daughters. In total 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses carried out the surgery.
8. Mrs. Mata discovered she was carrying conjoined twins when a routine ultra-sound showed that the girls were connected at the chest and abdomen.
9. Before the surgery Knatalye and Adeline underwent a five-hour procedure to place tissue expanders in their chest to prepare for the operation.
Dr. Darrell Cass, a pediatric surgeon said:
This is the first time a separation surgery for thoraco-omphalo-ischiopagus twins with this particular configuration has been successful.
This surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems.
Our team has been preparing for this surgery for months and we’ve done everything from working with our radiology experts to build a 3-D model of their organs, to conducting simulations of the actual separation surgery.
The babies are now being cared for in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, where they will remain for the next couple of months.
No date has been for their release from Texas Children’s Hospital, as it is believed that they will have to undergo additional procedures in the future.
10. Doctors prepare to begin the procedure after the girls are given anesthetic. The surgery was the first time it had been carried out successfully.
11. Before the surgery, staff made 3D models of the twins’ organs in order to practice how they would carry out the procedure.
12. The full team that helped to separate the twins pose for a picture in the operating theatre. The girls will remain under their care until they are discharged.
13. Conjoined twins separated successfully at Texas Children’s Hospital.
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