Doctors in Cleveland have begun the first in a number of high-risk surgeries to separate 3-year-old twins joined at the head. While in Salt Lake City, twins are being prepared to be separated mid June.
Tatiana and Anastasia Dogaru were born in Rome and are attached at the head. Their parents, Reverend Alin Dogaru, a Byzantine Catholic priest, and Claudia Dogaru, both 31 said the surgery is the best hope for the two girls. If they do not have the surgery they could die in early childhood.
Their condition is called craniopagus twins and is very rare.
The twins are attached at the head. The back of Anastasia's head is attached to the top of Tatiana's head.
Doctors at the University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital
plan to separate the twins through several surgeries that will take about 6 months.
The surgery today will take all day. The surgery will begin at the scalp and doctors will make a wedge at the place where their skulls are joined. A piece of bone will be removed but put back in temporarily. Through this procedure, neurosurgeons will be able to see their brains for the first time.
How much separation is accomplished Wednesday depends on the complexity of blood vessels, tissue and bone connections.
The girls had to have small coils inserted into their brains to establish separate blood flow. This was a must before they considered doing the surgery. It was successful.
Dr. Alan Cohen, chief of paediatric neurosurgery, and Dr Arun Gosain, chief of paediatric plastic surgery and a team of up to 50 specialists were prepared for today's surgery. They spent Saturday and Monday doing practice session.
After the surgery they will have to watch for fluid on the brain, infection and bleeding.
In another case in Salt Lake City, twin 7-month-old girls, Allyson and Avery, are joined at the butt according to their older sister, Rylee who is 6.
Allyson and Avery Clark
The twins are actually joined at the lower back and do not share any major organs or large blood vessels. They are connected by skin, muscle tissue and lower spine nerve roots.
The 5 hour surgery is scheduled for June 18th. The twins are are already in the hospital where doctors inserted tissue expanders to expand the skin.
Their father is an F-16 crew chief who asked for a transfer to the Hill Air Force Base in Utah because of his girls and the hospital there had experience with conjoined twins, Maliyah and Kendra Herrin. The Herrin's, phoned and e-mailed the Clarks to welcome them to Utah, where they have no family except the military family that has been very helpful to them.
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin
Erin Herrin even visited the Clark babies in the hospital last week.
The Clarks have 5 children including the twins. Rylee 6, Ryan 4 and Karlee almost 2 and the 7 month old twins.
Kendra and Maliyah Herrin after surgery
It is such a great thing how far the medical technology has come. Today these twins are able to have a chance at a normal life.