A pair of twin babies conjoined at the stomach were surgically separated after a painstaking 11-hour procedure in Texas.
Sixteen-week-old AmieLynn Rose and JamieLynn Rae Finley were born joined at the abdomen, sharing skin, muscle and a liver.
A team of 25 medics, including six surgeons, at the Cook Children’s Medical Center performed the delicate surgery to separate the pair on Monday.
The infants are now sleeping in separate cribs for the first time.
Parents Amanda Arciniega and James Finley holding the twins, who are ‘recovering well’ at Cook Children’s Medical Center
It was both lead surgeon Dr José Iglesias and the medical center’s first time performing the surgery.
The procedure took months of planning, and Dr Iglesias and his team created prosthetic versions of the twins to map out exactly how they would do the operation.
The surgeons painted one of the twin’s toenails purple and the other’s green, and then different surgeons were allocated to either twin and wore corresponding colored scrub caps.
Team AmieLynn wore green hats, while Team JamieLynn wore purple ones.
JamieLynn and AmieLynn were omphalopagus twins, meaning they were joined at the abdomen and share one or more internal organs.
Around 10 percent of conjoined babies are omphalopagus twins, according to the NIH, but they have the best chance of surviving after successful surgery.
The girls were attached from the lower part of the breastbone to their bellybutton and shared a liver.
Three anesthesiologists, four pediatric surgeons, two plastic surgeons and 16 other clinical professionals worked together to separate the twins.
They split up the shared liver and then close up the wounds.
The girls were born prematurely at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth on October 3 last year.
Since then, medics at both facilities had been collaborating on a postnatal game plan.
Dr Iglesias said: ‘The separation surgery will give AmieLynn and JamieLynn better opportunities to improve their health and development, and to grow as the unique, individual little girls that they have been since birth, regardless of their physical connection as conjoined twins.’
Conjoined twins are extremely rare and are estimated to occur in just one in 200,000 live births.
Every year, only between five to eight conjoined twins survive the first few days after birth.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Delayed separation of conjoined twins increases the chances of survival as it allows the twins time to grow and become stable.