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Surgeons successfully separate conjoined twin girls in Northern California

November 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A team of doctors in Northern California on Monday separated twin girls who were conjoined at the chest and abdomen.

Two-year-old sisters Angelina and Angelica Sabuco had been in surgery since early Tuesday at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto.

It took the doctors more than eight hours to separate the sisters, who were born sharing a liver, chest and an abdomen. After the separation, the girls were moved to separate operating rooms for the reconstruction portion of the surgery.

The surgeons said they were happy with the progress of the operation.

The sisters are active and curious toddlers. But with their combined weight of 55 pounds, moving together was becoming more difficult.

"That's the hard part for us, because you don't know when one is going to be hitting the other one or the other one just not do anything and be helpless," said their aunt, Ruby Sabuco.

The twins were born fused from the middle of their breast bone to their belly button. Their intestines and hearts were touching.

More than 20 doctors and nurses were part of the complicated surgery. The team began the procedure Tuesday morning to separate them and reconstruct their bodies.

Dr. Gary Hartman is the lead surgeon on the risky and delicate procedure.

"There are two concerns: one is the unknown, is there something we haven't identified? And the other is the separation of the liver," he said. "These girls appear to be healthy and their anatomy is such that is looks favorable for us to be able to separate them."

Those were words the twins' family have been waiting to hear.

"I want them to live normally like other children," said their mother, Ginady Sabuco.

Doctors said normal and healthy is exactly the kind of lives the girls could start leading soon.

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