Conjoined twins occur in one out of every 200,000 live births. Many are stillborn, while others only survive a day or so outside of the womb. The overall survival rate for conjoined babies is between just 5 and 25 percent. That's why the conjoined girls born in Louisville, Kentucky, who recently underwent a risky separation surgery, are so miraculous.
The infants, who were connected at the chest and abdomen, began having trouble breathing, and were not showing proper growth by seven weeks of age, so doctors decided to operate. One grueling eight-hour surgery later, they were successfully separated. Including plastic surgeons, a cardiologist, nurses, and a variety of other specialists, a total of 45 medical professionals helped to pull off the operation. Performing drills on dolls helped the surgical team prepare for the rare procedure.
The twins remain in the critical care unit at Kosair Children's Hospital, where they are breathing with the help of ventilators but are getting stronger every day. According to a press release, "Their long-term prognosis is not yet known, but indicators are favorable for continued improvement."
Erle H. Austin III, M.D., chief of cardiovascular surgery at Kosair Children's Hospital, added, "In any situation where you have so complex a surgery, there is always a long road to recovery. We are cautiously optimistic, as one or both may require additional surgeries in the future."
As for the girls' mother, she said, "God was definitely watching over the girls and the medical team on the day of the surgery.... We are so thankful to God and everyone at Kosair Children's Hospital for getting them this far."
Donations toward their continued care can be made through the hospital's website.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.