Texas doctors separate conjoined twins after 11-hour ‘historic surgery’

A pair of conjoined twins were successfully separated during a complex procedure that marked a surgical first for Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, where it took place on Monday.

The infants, AmieLynn Rose and JamieLynn Rae Finley, are “recovering well,” officials at Cook Children’s Medical Center hospital wrote in a news release describing “historic surgery.” AmieLynn and JamieLynn were born prematurely on October 3 at nearby Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital to parents and Fort Worth residents Amanda Arciniega and James Finley.

At the time of birth, the twins were conjoined along their abdomens and shared skin, muscles and intra-abdominal organs, including a liver, according to Cook Children’s Medical Center. A 2016 report published by the National Institutes of Health suggests that omphalopagus twins — the technical term meaning that part of the gastrointestinal system and abdominal wall are shared — have the best chance of surviving after a successful separation. According to the agency, about 10% of babies born together are omphalopagic twins.

AmieLynn and JamieLynn Finley before their separation surgery at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Cook Children’s Hospital

AmieLynn and JamieLynn’s separation surgery involved a team of 25 medical professionals, including six surgeons, who performed the delicate operation over the course of 11 hours. The team has been split and assigned to focus on either AmieLynn or JamieLynn’s individual surgeries once the separation procedure is complete, the hospital said.

“This is a historic, amazing day,” said Wini King, Cook Children’s Health Care System’s senior vice president and chief of communications, diversity, equity and inclusion, at a news conference on Wednesday.

“This is a magical moment for Cook Children’s,” echoed Rick Merrill, the hospital’s President and CEO, in his own remarks at the conference.

Before their surgery this week, AmieLynn and JamieLynn had already braved a number of odds. Their condition at birth is rare, and although health authorities believe the occurrence of conjoined twins is underreported worldwide, current statistics indicate that it occurs in about one in 50,000 to 200,000 births. Of the conjoined twins who survive birth, about 25% live long enough to be eligible for separation surgery, according to the NIH.

“We are very pleased with her progress at this point,” said Dr. José Iglesias, the lead surgeon in the Finley twins’ case. “We are focused on her healing. They obviously have risks for several things, but we’re keeping an eye on those.”

“They will grow up to be the little girls they are meant to be: independent and feisty, as they have already shown us,” Iglesias added, drawing a burst of knowing laughter from the audience. “We’re very grateful for that so far.”


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