Pennsylvania surgeons separate 8-month-old conjoined twins

Raquel Erhard – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E) – Surgeons at a Pennsylvania hospital have successfully separated 8-month-old twin girls who were joined at the lower chest and abdomen Wednesday.

According to officials of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, it took a seven hour procedure and a team of 40 physicians, nurses and medical personnel to separate Allison and Amelia Tucker of New York, who shared chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver.

CHOP lead surgeon Holly Hedrick announced the operation was a success and the girls could live healthy independent lives.

Hedrick said “like all separations of conjoined twins, this was a very complex surgery, but it went very well and as expected.”

“We expect that Allison and Amelia will receive the care, therapy and support to allow them to live full, healthy and independent lives,” added Hedrick.

The twins, who are recovering in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit, are closely being monitored by hospital specialists.

The girls’ mother, Shellie Tucker, told the Times before the surgery that while both girls have fiery personalities and laugh and coo, they will be able to work on sitting up on their own, and learning to crawl, among other milestones, after surgery.

She and her husband lives in Adams but they have been staying for the last eight months at the hospital or at a Ronald McDonald House in Camden, New Jersey.

Amelia and Allison were born March 1 at 35 weeks’ gestation. The babies have gone through several tests and procedures. A medical team of more than 100 people have been caring for them, in preparation the lengthy surgery Wednesday.

Officials revealed the surgery was the 21st separation of conjoined twins executed at CHOP.

The hospital said conjoined twins happen once in every 50,000 to 60,000 births, and most are stillborn. Around three-quarters of such twins are female and are connected at least partially in the chest, sharing organs. Twins with separate sets of organs have better chances of successful surgery and survival.

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