Sandy Fuller found out she was pregnant with twins in her second trimester. Although she was initially ‘completely shocked’, excitement soon took over.
However, doctors soon realised that the twins were actually conjoined, and Sandy and her husband Jesse were referred to the Texas Children’s Hospital.
The two babies, Ella and Eliza, were born on March 1st, each weighing 5 pounds and 10 ounces (2.55 kg). The pair shared an abdomen and liver tissues, according to the hospital.
Doctors had spent months before and after the babies were born planning for the operation that would separate them.
“Our team began planning and preparing for this operation before these babies were even born,” Dr. Alice King, the lead surgeon on the operation and a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital, said in a statement. “From conducting simulations of the procedure, to collaborating extensively with our colleagues in anesthesiology, maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology and radiology, we have all been working together to achieve one common goal: the best outcome for Ella and Eliza.”
The pair spent the next three months still joined, and cared for in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) until they were ready for the operation that would separate them.
On June 14 the six hour surgery took place, with the expertise of 17 clinicians, including 7 surgeons, 4 anesthesiologists, 4 surgical nurses, and 2 surgical technicians. The twins were allowed to go home just 4 weeks after surgery, and four months after they were born.
Conjoined twins occur in only 1 in every 50,000 to 60,000 births, with most of the twins being stillborn. Conjoined twins also have a 70% chance of being female.