Conjoined twin babies successfully separated



These 11-month-old conjoined twins are doing well after being successfully separated in an intense, 21-hour surgery.

Twin girls Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho are "in stable condition" and "doing very well" after more than 50 doctors, nurses and other medical staff of Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla, New York, worked on separating the pair in a rare and complex procedure.

"At this point, the girls are doing very well," Dr. Samir Pandya, who was part of the surgical team, said in a press conference broadcast on Facebook Live.

Parents Laurilin Celadilla Marte and Marino Abel Camacho of Moa, Dominican Republic, were unaware their twin daughters were conjoined until after their birth on February 4, 2016.

"As a mother, we love our children no matter how they are, no matter what they have, we love them," the twins' mom Marte said at the press conference through a translator. "But it was difficult because their condition was not normal."

Ballenie and Bellanie were conjoined in the lower back, and they shared parts of their spinal cords, bladders, and reproductive systems.

According to physician-in-chief Dr. Michael Gewitz, the hospital became aware of the conjoined twins in the spring of last year, and doctors were able to do preliminary evaluations on the twins to see if they could be good candidates for treatment via teleconference.

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The family was then flown into the New York hospital for further evaluation by the end of summer, and doctors mapped out a course of action soon after.

"I knew it was going to be okay because we were given this opportunity to have this dream realized here," Marte said.

While the main separation surgery occurred last Tuesday into Wednesday, Dr. Whitney McBride, another leading surgeon on the case, explained doctors had performed many smaller operations leading up to the big separation, which doctors deemed a success.

"While the separation is done and a major component of their recovery is under way, there is still a long way to go," McBride said.

He went on to explain the girls will need physical therapy for the foreseeable future, and Pandya said he expects to see lasting effects on their gastrointestinal tract, as well as in their reproductive organs.

"They're feeding well and thriving well," Pandya explained. "We'll have to see how they recover in the long term."

Doctors said they will continue to monitor the girls' recovery, but were not able to say when the family will be able to return home.

"Our family does not know how we can repay everyone with the happiness we've been given," Marte said.


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