Traditionally, life is extremely harsh on Siamese twins.
Right from the very beginning, their chances of survival are slim. Approximately 50% are stillborn, and, for those that beat those odds, a further 25% die due to birth complications.
In previous centuries, those few pairs of Siamese twins who managed to overcome the adversity have, of course, spent their entire lives in a conjoined state.
Further still, their contemporaries often afforded them little respect, and continuing health problems were extremely common.
Of course now, thanks to advances in modern medicine and surgical procedures, Siamese twins can often be detached so that they have the opportunity to live a “normal” life. Providing the twins have not already grown to adulthood and the babies don’t share any vital organs, surgical separation can be successful.
These two sweethearts, Anna Grace and Hope Elizabeth, were born on December 29, 2016, through Caesarean section.
Together, the Siamese twins weighed a combined 4.4 kilos. After several tests and X-rays, doctors deduced that it might be possible to separate the twins from one another.
However, the risk was high.
The twins had been born attached at the chest and stomach. They also shared a large blood vessel; one that connected their hearts.
The girls had their own lives, but their bodies were one.
As can be imagined, the surgical procedure involved in any potential separation effort is far from a simple task.
Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that the preparation alone for this particular surgery took over a year. Doctors met a number of times to discuss and develop strategies, with the overall aim to minimise complications that might arise.
On January 13, 2018, the operation was performed. More than 75 specialists, from eight different departments, were involved in the operation which would ultimately decide the fates of Anna and Hope.
After seven hours filled with prayers and anxiety, the all-important moment arrived. The parents entered the hospital room to look upon their daughters, and found them lying in two different cots – everything went according to plan.
“The success of this incredibly complex operation was the result of hard work. In one year, all involved were doing their best and showed great commitment. We are very happy that everything went well and we are happy that we can continue to take care of Anna and Hope until they have recovered fully,” says hospital manager Larry Hollier.
Naturally, a huge weight was lifted from the shoulders of the girls’ parents. They had been keeping their fingers crossed for a successful operation, with no further complications, and in that respect the procedure couldn’t possibly have gone better.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the surgery was only the second of its kind in Houston for more than 20 years.
Jill Richards, mother to the twins, couldn’t believe it.
“We’ve thought about and prayed for this day for almost two years. It’s an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds,” she said.
Thanks to the incredible work of all the doctors and nurses involved at the Texan Children’s Hospital, Anna and Hope will be able to live a relatively normal life.
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