Two formerly conjoined twins in North Texas are recovering after an 11-hour procedure to separate them.
Four-month-old sisters JamieLynn and AmieLynn underwent surgery on Monday at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, becoming the first conjoined twins to be separated at the hospital.
Their story started when parents James Finley and Amanda Arciniega, of Saginaw, wanted to grow their family.
In a story posted on the hospital’s website, the parents describe learning about their twins at their 10-week ultrasound.
“She said that’s the baby’s head,” Finley said. “I was like, ‘What is that?’ and she said, ‘That’s the other baby’s head.’ And I was like, ‘What?’”
In that ultrasound, they learned that the twins were conjoined. JamieLynn and AmieLynn are omphalopagus twins, as they were joined at the abdomen and shared a liver. They each have their own heart and heart sac.
The hospital stated that they are truly special — conjoined twins occur in only about 1-in-200,000 live births.
“I would not have thought in a million years that I would have twins,” Arciniega said. “And then conjoined twins on top of that.”
Despite their concerns, Arciniega had an uncomplicated pregnancy but gave birth early when their doctor noticed they had a slow growth rate.
They were born by C-section on Oct. 3 at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. They both weighed 4 pounds, 7.8 ounces.
“It wasn’t an easy delivery, but we made it look easy,” Dr. Bannie Tabor said.
After a month at Texas Health Fort Worth, they were transferred to the NICU at Cook Children’s, where they have remained since November.
The hospital said that doctors set a sooner-than-later surgery date because they were not growing at the same rate.
“They’re pretty much at their maximal, I like to say, baby stretchability,” Dr. Jose Iglesias, Cook Children’s medical director of pediatric surgery, said. “So their skin is pretty stretchy. Their abdominal walls are stretchy. We’ve got the benefits of using that. By separating early, they’re not going to be as used to the loss of having essentially part of you that is different, so hopefully, that transition will be better. There are not very many more benefits to waiting longer versus doing it now.”
They were separated at 16 weeks old, and their parents were able to reunite with them following the surgery.
They will remain at the hospital while recovering and undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
The hospital said it took months of planning, researching, preparing and rehearsing for the surgery. At least 100 medical experts were involved in their care and surgery.
“I think the teamwork is a great point to bring up because it’s everything,” Iglesias said. “It takes a huge team to get all of this working as smoothly as you can make it, given the unknowns that we’ll have. Having everybody open and honest talking to each other regardless of their position, that’s the definition of teamwork.”