Two Pakistani toddlers born joined at the head were being being monitored Tuesday after doctors successfully separated them.
After about 16 hours of surgery, massive infusions of blood and extensive reconstruction of their skulls Monday, 2-year-old Hira and Nida Jamal were in stable condition at the Hospital for Sick Children.
“Considering the surgery they’ve gone through and the extent of the procedure, they’re doing as well as we can expect,” Dr. John Edmonds told a news conference Tuesday.
But doctors were concerned because Nida had a buildup of blood in her brain, said neurosurgeon Dr. Harold Hoffman, who led the team of 20 doctors and nurses through the risky operation.
Hoffman said Hira is expected to start moving within three to five days. But for Nida, “a lot depends on what happens to her engorged brain.”
Procedures to separate children joined at the head - known as cephalopagus twins - have been performed only 30 times. In twothirds of the operations, one or both of the children has died.
Doctors originally had scheduled the surgery for next month, but they had to act earlier because Hira’s heart was failing.
Last month, doctors implanted one of Hira’s kidneys in Nida.
Once doctors had separated the girls Monday night, they broke into two teams, each “tidying up the brain of one twin,” Hoffman said. A plastic surgery team then worked to repair their skulls and close the massive openings in their heads.
Before the surgery, hospital staff members had prepared the children for the shock of separation using dolls, pictures and mirrors. They will be in the same room when they wake up so they will be able to communicate with and touch each other.