Conjoined twins Erin and Abby Delaney have spent the first 10 months of their lives not being able to look at each other.
Joined at the top of their heads, the girls spent a lot of time lying on their backs, cushioned by pillows, and cared for by doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
They’ve also never seen their own bedroom, or their family’s home in North Carolina.
But life got a whole lot different for the babies last week, when a team of 30-plus surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists separated the sisters in an 11-hour surgery.
It is rare for conjoined twins to be connected at the crowns of their heads.
Surgeons first separated the girls’ shared blood vessels and the protective membrane protecting their brains, said a hospital spokeswoman.
The most painstaking part of the procedure was splitting the sagittal sinus, a large vein that traverses the top of the skull and carries blood from the brain toward the heart.
The medical staff then split into two teams, one for each baby, to complete reconstruction of the girls’ heads.
Heather and Riley Delaney learned they were the parents of conjoined twins about 11 weeks into her pregnancy. They were referred to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at the children’s hospital.
Prenatal care included high-resolution ultrasounds, MRIs and EKGs.
The girls were delivered by C-section on July 24; each weighed two pounds and one ounce.
Surgeons and medical staff developed an intricate plan for separating the twins and on June 7, they carried it out.
The babies now sleep side-by-side in separate beds as doctors and nurses monitor their recovery. They may need one additional surgery before being released from the hospital.
Their parents can’t wait to take their girls home.
“It’s going to be a big party,” Heather said. “Welcome home, baby shower, first birthday.”