September 24, 2011
On August 29, Jacob and Joshua Spates were given the opportunity to live normal lives after a successful operation to separate the conjoined twins
. Their mother, Adrienne Spates, was overwhelmed with joy after the surgery.
They are very much two different boys, she told the Huffington Post
An ultrasound last November revealed that the boys were conjoined at the back, sharing a spinal column and pelvis, called pygopagus twins. They are one pair of a dozen conjoined twins who have been successfully separated.
Due to other complications of the babies internal organs, they were delivered at 34 weeks via cesarean section on January 24th. They spent the next seven months gaining strength while doctors planned the surgery.
A team of 100 surgeons at Le Bonheur Childrens Hospital in Memphis were involved in the separation of the twins, a very tedious and risky operation.
"Most conjoined twins don't ever get a chance to get to separation because they die from complications at delivery," said Dr. Max Langham
, chief surgeon for the operation.
The Huffington Post reported that surgeons had practiced the operation on Cabbage Patch dolls over and over. They wanted to be prepared and know exactly what to expect to increase the chances of both the boys survival
Even though the surgery was a life or death situation, doctors urged that it take place. A successful surgery meant the boys would live normal lives and had a better chance of survival if they were not separated.
"If they had not been separated, sometime in the next year or two, they probably would have passed," Dr. Langham said.
The 13-hour surgery involved the delicate separation of the spinal cord and column, nerves and muscle, and gastrointestinal repair.
Although the initial separation was successful, the twins had other health problems which will require a longer stay in the hospital. Jacobs particular complications were inoperable while conjoined.
Jacob is in the intensive care unit and is scheduled for some additional surgeries, while Joshua is now in the recovery floor of the hospital and will soon come home, Adrienne told reporters.
Jacob had preexisting heart issues and after recovering from the separation, he will undergo further surgery. "Our cardiology team has very high hopes his treatment will be successful," Langham said.
In the United States, conjoined twins make up one of every 200,000 live births. Jacob and Joshua had already beaten the odds when they were delivered several weeks prematurely and despite their rare case, they survived. The road to recovery will be long but with their mother and a team of medical experts, both boys have a fighting chance to live.