Thirteen-month-old conjoined twin boys were successfully separated last Friday after a rare 27-hour surgery at a New York City hospital.
Born conjoined at the head last September, the 13-month-old twins—Jadon and Anias McDonald— were born with a condition called craniopagus, which means they shared a portion of their skull and brain tissue.
Although the McDonalds are from Coal City, Illinois, the surgery was performed at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York City and led by pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich, who “used high-tech imaging systems to help fully detach the boys’ skull and brain tissue,” according to The Independent.
The surgery to separate the twins required a team of 40 experts, who worked from Thursday morning to 2 a.m. on Friday to separate the twin boys.
During the procedure, surgeons found a five-by-seven centimeter area of brain tissue with no clear line of distinction.
“Dr. Goodrich had to make the call and the final cut based on his instinct,” the boys’ mother Nicole McDonald wrote on Facebook.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, craniopagus twins are rare, with only 2 percent of conjoined twins being born connected at the head.
Ms. McDonald indicated the rarity of the situation on her Facebook page explaining that “craniopagus twins occur in one in every ten million live births. There are four million births in the U.S. every year. So far in all of my research I have yet to find a set of twins like mine born in the United States in the last 20 years.”
Ms. McDonald posted a picture of Jadon on Facebook while Anias was still undergoing surgery. She said that Jadon handled the procedure like “a rock star.” However, Anias’ blood pressure and heart rate dropped during the surgery, and doctors “are predicting that at first he may not be able to move one or both sides of his body, based on the area of brain that was dissected.”
The twins still face “a long road of recovery and rehabilitation,” the Montefiore’s Hospital statement said.
“We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown,” Nicole McDonald wrote on her Facebook page. “The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks.”
The brothers underwent a string of medical tests before the surgery and a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money for the treatment.
The craniopagus-separation surgery performed on the McDonald twins was the 59th such surgery in the world since 1952, according to CNN.