A set of formerly conjoined 14-year-old twins have returned to the hospital that surgically separated them more than 10 years ago.
Josie and Teresita, who were born joined at the head, were greeted with hugs and kisses by doctors and medical staff at the Mattel’s Children Hospital UCLA.
The UCLA Newsroom reported that a member of the housekeeping staff, who visited the twins daily during their hospital stay in 2002, teared up during their reunion.
While they were there, the twins decorated rooms for patients who will spend the holidays at the hospital, with the help of their adoptive families. Josie and Teresita decorated one boy’s hospital room with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme, CBS Los Angeles reported.
“It helps them cheer up and that's how they get well," Josie told CBS Los Angeles.
When the twins were born in a Guatemalan village in 2001, their parents Wenceslao and Leticia Quiej-Alvarez never expected them to live longer than a year. With help from a non-profit, Healing the Children, the family was flown to the Los Angeles hospital on a private jet, and after a grueling 23-hour surgery, Josie and Teresita were finally separated.
Soon after returning to Guatemala, Josie began suffering from seizures, and Teresita contracted meningitis, which spread to her brain. It soon became evident that the family, still living in Guatemala, was unable accommodate their medical needs. They consulted with Healing the Children, and soon gave up the twins to local Los Angeles homes that were looking to adopt, People reported.
Today, Josie Hull, originally named Maria de Jesus Alvarez, lives with single-mother Jenny Hull, 44. Her sister, Teresita Cajas, originally Maria Teresa, lives with Werner Cajas, 54 and Florie Cajas, 53.
“She had spent so much time in the hospital, and we wanted to provide her an environment of love," Werner told People in 2012.
Despite living in separate households, Josie and Teresa are still as close as ever. They both love singing and swimming, Josie told CBS LA.
“We have so many things in common,” she said.
The girls Skype regularly with their biological family in Guatemala, and Jenny, Werner and Florie plan to throw a joint quinceanera for the twins when they turn 15 this summer.
The former director of Healing the Children’s L.A. division Chris Embleton told People: "The twins now have three moms and two dads. Theirs may look different from yours or mine, but there's no question: They are one big family."