In the first operation of its kind within the Jewish state, an Israeli hospital successfully operated on conjoined twins.

In an extremely rare operation, the Rambam Medical Center after a four-hour procedure managed to separate a rare case of conjoined twins. It was the first of its kind in Israel. One of the twins was fighting for his life, while the other one was stillborn. The surviving twin possessed an additional legs, pelvis, arms, and digestive system to his own body that needed to be separated, in addition to suffering from a heart defect, while the stillborn twin’s body was not fully developed.

Such a case is considered so rare that only 150 such documented cases have occurred within the last 126 years. “This kind of surgery is incredibly complicated, with low survival rates,” said Ran Steinberg, head of pediatric surgery to The Times of Israel. He called the procedure “a complete success” but said that “in many cases, as here, the twin also suffers from accompanying heart defects, which further endangers the infant’s life.” Nevertheless, although the surviving twin remains in critical condition, his situation is presently stable.

It was reported that the mother was not aware that she was carrying conjoined twins when she came into the hospital. As a result, the decision to operate was only made during the pre-birth examination. According to the Jewish Press, “Everyone worked together to perform this historical surgery. The doctors at Rambam performed a CT scan to try and determine the complicated internal anatomy.”

“Having never come across a similar situation, everyone – from cardiologists to heart surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatric surgeons, and more – met and planned this complicated procedure. The surgery then took place, with the complete cooperation of surgeons from many different fields,” the Jewish Press reported.

“When the fertilized egg separates and divides after fertilization at an early stage, two separate pregnancy sacs are formed, from which non-identical twins may develop. In a later separation identical twins develop in one pregnancy sac, while in a much later separation conjoined twins could develop, or one twin with only some of his body parts, like in the present case,” Prof. Ido Sholet, head of the High-Risk Pregnancy Unit at Rambam, told Haaretz.

By Rachel Avraham