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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's First Conjoined Twins Separation a Success


The 2 year old twin girls were conjoined from the breast bone to the groin. On Saturday Dec 13, 2008 Dagian and Danielle Lee underwent surgery at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. During a 24 hour surgery, they were separated.

It was the first time conjoined twins had been separated at Children's Hospital. The team was formed of many disciplines including anesthesiology, general and thoracic surgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology, and critical care. The team of more than 50 physicians and nurses was led by Joseph E. Losee, MD, FACS, FAAP, chief of the Division of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Children's Hospital.

The procedure was a success and the twin girls are recovering well at Children's Hospital. The surgery to separate them took 16 hours, then they went to separate rooms for eight hours of reconstructive surgery.

The girls had been conjoined from the breast bone to the groin. In addition, the twins shared a colon, liver, and a leg.

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The twins have spent the majority of their first two years of life as patients at Children's Hospital. During the 18 month period prior to the separation surgery, the twins actually underwent more than 10 other procedures in preparation. These procedures included the placement of tissue expanders, which were used to stretch the skin to allow for reconstruction following the separation. The girls will very likely require further reconstructive procedures in the future.

The separation surgery left each girl with only one leg. There was way to leave the hip or leg-bone structure necessary for the typical prosthetic leg. This makes their chances of getting a prosthesis fit 50-50. For now, the twins use wheelchairs.

"This complex separation was the culmination of 18 months of preparation and planning. The surgery itself went extremely well and we're very optimistic that Dagian and Danielle will continue their strong recovery," Dr. Losee said. "It's important to emphasize how remarkable it was to have more than 50 people working together in such a smooth and orchestrated fashion to ensure the best possible outcome for these two beautiful little girls. They still face future risks and surgeries, but we look forward to watching them live long, happy lives."

Dagian and Danielle were ischiopagus twins, meaning they were joined at the pelvis and shared a colon. Conjoined twins are rare and occur in about one in every 100,000 births.

See pictures of the twins before and after surgery, as well as X-ray images and drawings.

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh News Release
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette