PALO ALTO (KPIX) — A pair of conjoined two-year old twins were adjusting to literally not being by each other’s side on Thursday as they recovered from a marathon surgical procedure at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
The girls from Sacramento had spent every second of their young lives attached to each other until skilled surgeons in Palo Alto successfully completed a risky, 17-hour operation to separate them.
“It’s still very surreal when I see them separated with one on one side and the other in a different hospital bed,” said their mother Aida Sandoval.
Sandoval cried tears of joys as she described seeing her daughters Erika and Eva in separate hospital beds for the first time in their young lives after Tuesday’s marathon surgery.
“It has been a long journey to get here. It’s really been a dream come true,” said Sandoval.
Erika and Eva made that emotional journey together. Two girls sharing one body joined from the chest down.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult separation,” their mother explained.
But a necessary one; doctors feared the girls’ unique anatomy might eventually threatened both their lives.
“We know if one twin gets critically ill and passes away, the other twin will die within a few hours,” Head Surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman
But the 17-hour surgery posed its own risks as well. Doctors gave the girls a 70 percent chance of surviving.
The girls have separate hearts, lungs and stomach, but shared a liver, bladder, two kidneys and three legs.
The team of surgeons worked painstakingly to separate them.
More than nine hours after they began, doctors made the final cut, severing the last remaining physical connection between the two girls.
Several more hours of reconstructive surgery would follow before the girls – sedated and separate but still side by side — would be met by their mom in the ICU.
“It brings us all joy,” said Sandoval.
The twins and are expected to remain in intensive care for up to two weeks, hospital officials said.