Conjoined Twins Update: Separated; Saving the Twins with Dr. Sanjay Gupta 12019/ Pixabay

Conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli are now successfully thriving back home in Chicago with their parents 3 months after their separation surgery last year. The girls are reportedly still hooked on a breathing tube with a vent but mom, Maggie, and dad, Dom feel hopeful they will be able to breathe on their own soon.

The Altobellis flew home on Dec. 1, 2021, nearly a year after the twins were born and admitted in intensive care since birth as they awaited the necessary preparations to enable doctors to perform the surgery. The girls are said to be doing well and are going through a regular series of physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Apart from their breathing tube, the girls are now practicing eating although they still have feeding tubes. Other than that, both parents are happy to share that their daughters are enjoying their individual lives like normal toddlers.

“These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It’s pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we’re living this life," Maggie Altobelli said.

Looking back to where their journey began, Maggie and Dom learned they were expecting conjoined twins during an ultrasound appointment on their 20th week of pregnancy. Fortunately, doctors discovered the girls had their own separate hearts although they shared the same diaphragm and liver. This put things in a brighter perspective for both parents and their medical neonatal team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who said they were excellent candidates for separation surgery.

In their story they shared with Today, doctors had developed a birth plan to prepare the twins for their separation. The couple welcomed their newborn daughters on Nov. 18, 2020, via C-section and have since nurtured the girls while they were in intensive care.

The prep process entailed skin tissue expansion and making 3D models of their liver to practice on while the girls were struggling to cope with tracheostomies.

The twins were finally ready to be separated on Oct. 13, 2021, with Doctor Holly Hedrick leading the surgical team on a high-risk 10-hour-operation. Radiologists were on stand-by to provide contrast ultrasound during surgery to guide the surgeon during the separation. The surgical team constantly had to make sure both diaphragms were working as it was divided for each twin. Their common liver was large enough to be generously divided for each of them.

Now back home, Maggie and Dom said the girls were unsure of being separated at first and still like to be close to each other. “They sit up and look at each other and smile and play,” Dom Altobelli said. “Anytime they’re close they’re reaching for each other’s hands and faces and breathing tubes.”

Filled with gratitude for Doctor Hedrick, the Altobellis wanted to share their story hoping their journey can inspire and raise money to support Hedrick’s research and help more people.

Representation Image Surgery Operating room AhmadArdity/ Pixabay

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