Greek conjoined twins separated successfully

ROME – Two four-month-old twin girls from Greece who were joined at the temple have been successfully separated and should be able to live normal lives, doctors said yesterday. A team of more than 30 doctors and nurses participated in the 13-hour operation at the infant neurosurgery department of Rome’s Policlinico Gemelli Hospital on Saturday but no information was previously released at the request of the girls’ parents. «They are in perfectly good condition. We have not had any real complications. They are awake and they are with their parents,» said Dr Concezio Di Rocco, who led the surgical team. The twins, whose names have not been released, were born on June 13 at the Ippocrateio Hospital in the northern port city of Thessaloniki. They were joined at the temple and were face to face before being separated but did not share a brain. The girls arrived in Italy last Wednesday and doctors decided to operate earlier than planned out of concern that one twin might catch an infection from the other. Doctors also wanted to operate quickly because each twin had restricted use of one eye, endangering their vision. Di Rocco said it would be some time before doctors could evaluate whether their sight has been impaired but said that shouldn’t hamper their pursuit of normal lives. «From a practical point of view – the ability to live as we understand it – there won’t be problems,» said Di Rocco. The girls were expected to be able to travel home in about three weeks. Although doctors in Rome faced similar challenges to a team in Dallas that successfully separated two-year-old twin boys joined at the head over the weekend, Di Rocco acknowledged that risks to the Greek twins were somewhat lower. «In the case of damage, if something had gone wrong, our girls would have been paralyzed but still living, the (Egyptian boys) would have died,» said Di Rocco. He described the enormous relief in the operating room when the procedure was completed successfully. «I have been operating for more than 20 years and I have never heard applause in the operating theater… this time, when the girls were separated, there was applause all around and this was very moving,» said Di Rocco. The family thanked Dr Di Rocco «for dealing with our daughters’ problem both from a scientific and human perspective.»