Doctors Prepare To Separate Twins


POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 2:05pm

UPDATED: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 2:06pm

Surgery to split toddlers joined at chest expected to take 20 hours.

For two little girls from the Philippines, the doctors at Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto are a godsend.

Conjoined twins Angelica and Angelina Sabuco are relying on the doctors to separate them Tuesday.

The surgery comes after months of preparation and planning and it will take six hours alone just to cut the 2-year-olds, who are attached at the chest and abdomen, apart.

"This is a major operation, but we really expect both twins to survive and to do well," said pediatric surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman.

Hartman has performed more of these types of surgeries than any other surgeon.

He says the biggest challenge facing the girls would be splitting their liver, because the two of them share one and the risk of hemorrhaging is high.

The doctors also had to start using tissue expanders on the girls back in the Spring to help cover the hole that will be left where the doctors separate the two.

Both girls do have separate hearts, though they touch at their tips, and their digestive systems function separately.

The girls will be in intensive care after the surgery and they will be in the hospital for four to five days before being transferred to a regular room for about a week.

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