FILED IN: Happy Endings - Health

Conjoined twins from Philippines successfully separated

Angelina and Angelica Sabuco are 2-year-old conjoined twins whose family is looking forward to their independence.

Conjoined twins Angelica and Angelina Sabuco are living a separate peace. Photo via Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Conjoined twins Angelina and Angelica Sabuco were successfully separated Nov. 1 at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital after a long 8-hour surgery that included separating the skin, ribs and liver of the 2-year-old twins.

Most conjoined twins don’t live through the birth process, and if they do live, many don’t survive past the age of 1. There have been numerous cases of conjoined twins from other countries coming to the United States to be separated, as the Sabuco twins, who are from The Philippines, have done.

The surgery was expected to take at least nine hours, with one hour for preparation, six hours to physically separate the girls surgically and two to three hours that will be focused on reconstruction. Because of the fused liver, the surgery was expected to be at least somewhat complicated.

The most complicated part of the procedure was thought to be the anesthesia, which would take up much of the space in the room because the girls had separate organs and systems in every way except for the liver they shared. They would require separate anesthesia, which would take up a lot of space, leaving the surgeons less space with which to work.

The pediatric surgeon who was performing the surgery began by cutting through the skin and muscle, followed by the plastic surgeon, Peter Lorenz, who cut through their rib bones. The trickiest part of the surgery, the division of the liver and diaphragms, was done next. Hartman finished the separation surgery by separating the last of the bowels and any skin that was left attached.

The reconstructive surgery is still needed to rebuild the girls’ torsos where the chest and abdomen is separated, so the surgery won’t be completed until that part is done. Afterward, they’ll spend four to five days in intensive care, followed by roughly a week in a regular room before heading back to their home country of The Philippines.

The girls’ mother, Ginady, said she’s excited for the girls to lead individual and full lives after healing from the operation and learning how to move around independently.