The twins, born conjoined at the head, look at each other for the first time. (Screenshot) (Screenshot)
Twins conjoined at the head separated.v1

In what doctors described as a “life or death” operation, one-year-old twins conjoined at the head were separated and are expected to live completely normal lives.

By Terri Nir, United with Israel

For the first time in Israel, twins conjoined at the head were separated successfully.

The operation, conducted by Soroka Medical Center in the southern city of Be’er Sheba, was a huge success. Doctors expect the girls, who were born last year in August, will live completely normal lives.

“They are breathing and eating on their own,” Eldad Silberstein, head of the hospital’s plastic surgery department, told Israel’s Channel 12 news.

“This was a rare and complex surgery that has been conducted only 20 times worldwide and now, for the first time, in Israel,” said Mickey Gideon, Soroka’s chief pediatric neurosurgeon.

The 12-hour procedure, with the assistance of dozens of experts from Israel and abroad, involved cranial reconstruction and scalp grafts.

Dr. Isaac Lazar, director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Soroka, described to Times of Israel the moment on Sunday when the girls looked at each other for the first time and the “unbelievable joy” felt by the parents.

“When the nurses brought the babies together, newly separated, they looked at each other, made noises, and gently touched each other — it was beautiful,” Lazar told Times of Israel in an interview. “You could see the communication between them, and it was just so special.”

“Any wrong decision could have been the difference between life and death,” Lazar said. “It was so delicate, as the surgery was performed between major blood vessels in the babies’ heads. We all knew that any bleed could have catastrophic consequences.”

The operation was “complicated beyond anything one could imagine,” he added. “The babies were connected by the back of their heads in an area where there was no skin and no skull. We had to take action to make them grow more skin.”

“Because the babies couldn’t move their heads for the first 12 months of their lives, there’s a physical handicap, but with the right rehabilitation for their physical and cognitive development, we expect them to catch up with their milestones,” the doctor explained.

“One of the reasons for doing this now, as early as possible, is to allow normal development, and our hope is that this is now very likely.”

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