STANFORD (CBS/AP) – Two-year-old twin girls who are joined at the chest and abdomen were undergoing final preparations Monday for a complex surgery at Stanford Hospital that will separate them.

Doctors at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital are planning a nine-hour procedure Tuesday that, if successful, will allow Angelica and Angelina Sabuco to live independently from each other.

PHOTOS: Sabuco Conjoined Twins

Pediatric surgeon Gary Hartman, who has performed five similar procedures, said he expected the twins to survive and do well. The operation will involve more than 20 physicians and nurses from various specialties, and culminates several months of planning.

“I want them to live normally, like other children,” Ginady Sabuco, the girls’ mother, said in a statement from the hospital.

The girls, who were born in the Philippines and live in San Jose with their parents and 10-year-old brother, have done well so far. They love listening to stories and music, and they know their colors and can count to 10. And like many children their age, they love Dora the Explorer and Elmo, and celebrated their second birthdays with cakes adorned with Disney princesses and Tinker Bell.

But remaining conjoined carries risks for the girls’ physical health, especially if they share organs unequally. If one conjoined twin dies, the other will die within in hours.

Angelica and Angelina are classified as thoraco-omphalopagus— joined at the chest and abdomen. Their livers, diaphragms, breast bones, chest and abdominal wall muscles are fused. They have separate hearts, brains, kidneys, stomachs and intestines.

The occurrence of conjoined twins is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 100,000 births worldwide, and the overall survival rate is approximately 25 percent, according to the hospital.

The operation will involve cutting along the girls’ skin and muscle and separating their diaphragms and livers. Doctors will snip any adhesions between the girls’ bowels. Separate reconstruction operations will follow.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

The girls were expected to be hospitalized for nearly two weeks.

They will be the second set of conjoined twins separated at the hospital. The last such procedure took place in November 2007.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Jennifer says:

    I wish these girls the best. my prayers are with them during their surgery.

  2. Jadǝ Trunks says:

    Best wishes to them.

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