Ten months ago, Mooresville, North Carolina resident, Heather Delaney gave birth to a very rare kind of conjoined twins. The two girls, Abby and Erin, each weighed two pounds and one ounce, and were connected via the top of their heads. The babies were delivered via c-section. Though they were given their own names, they wouldn’t sleep in their own beds until last week, after a 11-hour surgery finally severed the connection.
Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia spent months preparing for the complicated procedure that would free the Delaney twins from each other. Although the team there had previously separated 22 sets of conjoined twins over the last 60 years—more than any other hospital in the Western Hemisphere—this was their first case of craniopagus twins, the scientific name for twins connected at the head. And on June 6, 2017, a team of 30, including physicians, nurses and other medical staff from neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and anesthesiology, all participated in the marathon separation.
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“Separating conjoined twins is a very complex surgery followed by a long and complicated recovery, but we are very hopeful for a positive outcome,” Jesse Taylor, a plastic surgeon who co-led the operation with neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer, said in a statement from the hospital. “Erin and Abby are now recovering in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit under close monitoring by our expert teams.”
Abby and Erin will likely have additional reconstructive surgeries, but the hospital plans to send them home to North Carolina later this year. “When we go home, it’s going to be a big party,” Heather Delaney said in a statement from the hospital. “Welcome home, baby shower, first birthday.”