Conjoined twins separated successfully after 13-hour operation

Conjoined twins separated successfully | Photo: WREG
Conjoined twins Joshua and Jacob Spates were successfully separated during a life saving surgery in Memphis, recently.

The conjoined twins were born on January 24 and were separated during a grueling 13-hour operation at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital on August 29 in what hospital officials called the most complex procedure ever performed in the history of the facility.

Doctors reportedly waited until the twins were seven months old to perform the daring surgery so that they could simulate the surgery and rehearse the delicate procedure. The medical professionals reportedly practiced on beanie babies and cabbage patch dolls sewn together.

"Everyone laughed about the dolls ... but by the time the day of the surgery came, you would have thought we'd been doing it a long time," Joel Saltzman, director of pediatric anesthesiology at the hospital, told Associated Press.

The way Joshua and Jacob were joined makes them pygopagus twins, a rare form of conjoined twins in which the bodies are joined back to back at the pelvis and lower spine but each have their own heart, head and limbs. Pygopagus twins represent about 15 percent of all conjoined twins

After the surgery on August 29, doctors said the twins have health problems that will require ongoing treatment, but said they hope both will be able to walk with braces.

Joshua and Jacob were identified as conjoined twins prenatally through an ultrasound and were delivered via Caesarean section at 34th week to prevent further complications.

According to reports, conjoined twins account for only about one in 200,000 live births, and the vast majority of conjoined twins who survive long enough to be separated are girls.
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