SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A pair of 9-month-old twins who were conjoined at the head were successfully separated in a “landmark surgery,” California medical officials said.
The girls were craniopagus twins, which is even rarer than conjoined twins. According to a UC Davis news release, only 2% of conjoined twins are born connected at the head, and craniopagus twins occur only once in every 2.5 million births.
It’s a very, very rare anomaly,” UC Davis Children’s Hospital pediatric neurosurgeon Michael Edwards told KCRA. “There are very few children born in any one year worldwide that have this anomaly, and of those, there’s only a much smaller subset that the anatomy is fortuitous enough to be able to attempt a separation — and hopefully come out with two healthy babies.”
The medical team included 30 people and were led by Edwards, chief of plastic surgery Granger Wong, director of pediatric anesthesiology Rajvinder Dhamrait and Children’s Surgery Center lead nurse Aida Benitez, the hospital said.
“This is a landmark surgery for us at UC Davis Children’s Hospital,” Edwards said in a statement. “Abigail and Micaela are doing well and recovering in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, thanks to an amazing team effort dedicated to ensuring these very rare twins have the best shot at a healthy life ahead. We are honored to have helped with their birth, cared for them since, and to now give them the chance to live independent and separate lives.”
The parents of the twins, Liliya Miroshnik and Anatoliy Bachinskiy, learned the girls were conjoined when Liliya was 11 weeks pregnant, KCRA reported.
“It was very tough. I just was shocked. I couldn’t process,” Miroshnik told the television station. “When I got home my husband said that everything will be good. We will get through it. This is our kids. We already love them.”
The couple, who celebrated their 10th anniversary in August, also have three boys, KCRA reported.
Medical teams spent several months preparing for the surgery, People reported. The medical team printed 3D models of the twins’ skulls to practice on, and used mixed-reality goggles to look inside the girls’ skulls ahead of time to determine which blood vessels needed detangling and separation, the magazine reported.
Wong made the initial incisions, comparing it to “a choreographed ballet,” according to the hospital’s news release.
During the surgery, the twins required five position changes and several blood transfusions, hospital officials said.
The babies were officially separated at 3:28 a.m. on Oct. 24.
“After 10 months of preparation, we were witnessing what we had all envisioned for the girls and we were overcome with emotion and joy,” Benitez said in the news release. “I will never see 3:28 on a clock again and not think of the moment that Abi and Mica became two separate babies.”
The twins are resting separately at the UC Davis Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, KOVR reported. Their parents are learning to hold them separately.
“When I put Mica asleep yesterday it was, it was something different,” Bachinskiy told the television station.
“Everything went well. It felt almost impossible to separate them, but God and the doctors and nurses at UC Davis made it possible,” Miroshnik said. “We are so thankful.”
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