The chance of being born a twin is three in 100. However, the chance of being born a conjoined twin is anywhere from one in 50,000 to one in 100,000. While this may seem almost impossible to imagine for most families, it is a very simple reality for the Sabuco family California.
Two-year-old sisters, Angelina and Angelica, were born as thoraco-omphalopagus, which is the medical term for being joined in the chest and abdomen. The twins share one liver and one diaphragm as well as breast bones, a single chest and abdominal wall muscles. They may share some of the same features, but both Angelina and Angelica are lucky enough to have separate vital organs such as hearts and kidneys. The benefits of such a circumstance were taken into account when they were successfully separated on Tuesday.
Dr. Gary Hartman, an experienced doctor who had previously separated five other sets of conjoined twins, was in charge of the separation procedure at Stanford University’s children’s hospital as well as reconstruction at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Giving the twins the opportunity of independence took over nine hours and a team of more than 40 people. After the surgery was completed, it was deemed successful and well executed.
“The long-term prognosis is that we should have a happy, healthy set of girls. We don’t see any barrier to a full recovery,” Hartman said.
The girls will obviously have to make some adjustments in their lives. After two years of constantly being together, their mother, Ginady Sabuco, anticipates separation anxiety early on, and the frustration of having to accomplish tasks differently. The twins had once been able to work together to walk, but now they will have to relearn their motor skills and of course wear a long scar running from their chests to their stomachs.
For both the girls and their parents, this new independence is exactly what they had been hoping for. Angelina and Angelica now have the chance to cool down after an argument, play by themselves and live their lives in freedom. For now, however, they will remain in the hospital for at least two weeks, and will wake up to their new lives as early as Wednesday.