Conjoined twin girls successfully separated after 16-hour surgery

Conjoined Twin Girls Successfully Separated After 16-Hour Surgery

Acen and Apio Akello were born joined at the hip and pelvis, but after surgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital on September 3rd, the formerly conjoined twin sisters are likely to live healthy and normal lives.

Over 30 specialists across half a dozen fields were on hand to perform the surgical separation of the girls' spines, muscle and tissue from one another as well as reconstructive efforts after the separation.

The 11-month-olds were labeled "red" and "blue" during the 16-hour procedure to ensure each girl's monitoring equipment wasn't mistaken for the other's.

Conjoined twins separated
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Conjoined twin girls successfully separated after 16-hour surgery

Acen (left) and Apio (right) Akello arrived at Nationwide Children`s Hospital conjoined as one and were separated during a 16-hour surgery on Sept. 3, 2015. The tissue expanders were placed in between them underneath their skin to prepare for separation. The girls are pictured here in their hospital room with their mother, Ester Akello.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Acen (bottom) and Apio (top) Akello the morning before their separation surgery at Nationwide Children`s Hospital on Sept. 3, 2015.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Pre-operative 3D modeling was an innovative part of how surgeons at Nationwide Children`s Hospital prepared for the separation surgery of twin girls who had part of their spines, muscle and tissue separated.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Dr. Jeffrey R. Leonard, chief of neurosurgery at Nationwide Children's and neurosurgeon, Dr. Lance Governale, assisted each other to delicately separate the intertwined spinal cords of the conjoined twins.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Carefully dividing the soft tissue, Dr. Gail Besner of Nationwide Children`s Hospital separates 11-month-old twin girls who had their spines, muscles and tissue separated during at 16-hour surgery.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Twin girls were on two separate tables immediately after their separation surgery, but the surgery was still hours from being completed. The team from Nationwide Children's Hospital that was formerly huddled around one operating table now huddled around two, and additional nurses and anesthesiologists were brought in to assist in the reconstruction.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)

Dr. Gail Besner of Nationwide Children`s Hospital took a brief moment away from operating to tell Ester Akello that her children were no longer conjoined.

(Photo: Nationwide Children's Hospital)


Aiding specialists was a novel form of monitoring that allowed surgeons to know exactly which muscles and nerves belonged to which sister.

Preserving the girls' neurological functions was instrumental in assuring fully functioning legs, bowels and bladders post-separation.

After the procedure, the surgeon who separated the twins relayed the news to their mother Ester.

She doesn't speak English well, but her gratitude was palpable; easily understood even without shared language.

The girls are currently receiving postoperative treatment at the hospital.
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