Formerly Conjoined Twins Reunite With Medical Team That Surgically Separated Them

Health - Deborah Hastings

Knatalye and Adeline are toddler twins who run around the house at breakneck speeds, yelling and laughing and creating big messes and lovable chaos.

But they are closer than most other twins. They entered the world sharing one body, joined at the heart, and doctors thought at the time they would never be separate individuals, wondering whether the girls would have any kind of life at all.

At 10 months, they underwent 26 grueling hours of surgery to give them two bodies, and now at age 3, they are still here and doing well.

"They fight and they give hugs and they give kisses — it's crazy at home," said mom Elysse Mata at a Sunday reunion of the girls and their surgeons and care providers at Texas Children's Hospital.

Their house looks like a day care center, the parents said. 

The girls still require round-the-clock nursing care, but they now sleep in their own room, in two cribs. Knatalye is the bossy one, her parents say.

"If she doesn't want to say 'Hi," she won't," her mother said, laughing.

"She acts like a mom," her father, Eric, added. "She likes to help."

Adeline, or "Addy," as her parents call her, "is still her sweet, calm self," her mom said. "She doesn't like big crowds."

She also likes a set routine.

"She likes things to stay the way they are," her dad observed. 

The girls are learning to speak, aided by therapy. Addy isn't as far along as her sister, her parents said. "She talks a lot and it's hard to understand, but she gets her words out," her mom said.

The couple has two other children, but Knatalye and Addy are just part of the tribe, albeit with a few extra needs.

Knatalye had a respiratory infection that landed her back in the hospital with a tracheostomy. She needs breathing treatments and a ventilator at night.

But there is a simple routine to all their extra activities.

"They get up, and they eat, and then it's bath time," their mother said. "Then it's time to clean the trach."  

"You don't have to tell them," their dad says. "They'll tell you when it's time to do something." Sometimes, when the family is out in the evening, the twins will call it a night, saying it's time to go home, and "it's time for bed," he said.

The twins are, their parents said, true individuals now, in body and spirit.