40-Member Team Separates Conjoined Twins in 7-Hour Surgery

Allison and Amelia Tucker were successfully separated in a seven-hour operation yesterday.

Eight-month-old conjoined twins Amelia and Allison Tucker were successfully separated in a seven-hour surgery performed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, hospital representatives said.

The infant girls, from Adams, N.Y., were joined at the lower chest and abdomen and shared their chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver.

The twins’ parents, Shellie and Greg Tucker, first learned that Shellie was carrying conjoined twins about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. They were quickly referred to CHOP’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment for evaluation. They were born in a planned C-section delivery on March 1st in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the world’s first birthing unit dedicated to mothers carrying fetuses with known birth defects.

A multidisciplinary team of 40 health professionals participated in the surgery.

“Like all separations of conjoined twins, this was a very complex surgery, but it went very well and as expected,” said Dr. Holly Hedrick, lead surgeon. “Allison and Amelia are currently recovering in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) and will be monitored closely by CHOP’s expert clinical teams for the duration of their recovery,” she added.

The surgery itself involved a multidisciplinary, 40-person team including physicians, nurses and other medical staff from general surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, cardiac surgery, anesthesiology, radiology, and neonatology.

The eight-month-old girls have spent their entire lives inside The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This has been one of the most incredible journeys for our family, but we are excited about the next phase in Allison’s and Amelia’s lives,” said Shellie Tucker.

As the separated infants recover from their surgery, they will be closely followed in the coming months by nutritionists, developmental pediatricians, and other specialists to ensure that they receive the best clinical care to enable them to thrive and grow.

“We expect that, with this complex surgery behind them, Allison and Amelia will receive the care, therapy and support to allow them to live full, healthy and independent lives,” concluded Dr. Hedrick.

Doctors at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have separated 20 sets of conjoined twins and have managed the care of many others whose separation was not surgically possible. According to a CHOP press release, conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 60,000 births; most are stillborn. Approximately 75 percent of conjoined twins are female and joined at least partially in the chest and share organs with one another. If they have separate sets of organs, chances for surgery and survival are greater than if they share the same organs.

(Photo Credit: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)


Read more from Joslyn at Babble Pets and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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