Today, conjoined twins are not as unheard of as they once were. But while they might still have slim chances of survival, particularly if they share vital organs, medicine has progressed to the degree that many can now be separated. Here we present the stories of five pairs of conjoined twins who were separated by surgery after they were born.
5. Angelica and Angelina Sabuco
When twin sisters Angelica and Angelina Sabuco were born they were joined at the chest and belly. Doctors at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital spent months preparing for major surgery to separate them. The girls, who were two years old at the time, were finally separated in November 2011 following an operation that lasted a full 10 hours. The most complex part of the surgery was when the doctors separated the girls’ fused liver.
Fortunately the surgery was a great success. According to their doctors, Angelica and Angelina are now both leading healthy, happy lives – and they enjoy making new friends!
4. Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf
When babies Hassan and Hussein were born, they were fused at the lower torso. The boys shared their liver, bladder and pelvis, meaning any surgery to separate them would have to be extremely complicated. The twins, from Cork in Ireland, were able to receive surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 2009. The procedure called on 20 medics, four surgeons and four anesthetists, working in shifts over the course of a 14-hour operation. At the end, the boys were finally separated.
Following the operation each boy was left with one leg, but they are full of energy and committed to living life to the fullest as they grow up. Today, Hassan and Hussein are doing well and walk together with confidence.
3. Yurelia and Fiorella Roch-Arias
Yurelia and Fiorella, from Costa Rica, were born sharing a heart and breastbone. Like Angelica and Angelina, they underwent surgery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at the age of two – one of just five such operations that take place each year in the US. The surgery called for the the girls’ heart and liver to be separated, splitting the liver between the two of them. A team of 24 doctors, nurses and technicians, worked for 12 hours – and their hard work was all worth it.
Both girls face the risk of heart complications over the course of their lives, but this hasn’t stopped them from enjoying life for a moment.
2. Rital and Ritag Gaboura
Things didn’t look hopeful for twin girls Rital and Ritag who were born joined at the head. Babies born with this condition are unlikely to survive and any surgery to separate them would be fraught with difficulty. Heading to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, the pair went through an exhausting series of four operations.
Thankfully, due to the diligence and hard work of the surgeons who treated them, the two were successfully separated – and can be seen beaming with joy!
1. Emily and Caitlin Copeland
When they were born in 1996, Emily and Caitlin were joined at the torso and shared a liver. They would be separated at the tender age of 10 months.
The two now live busy, happy lives and were selected as co-valedictorians at their high school graduation in 2014.