Conjoined Twins To Live 'Long, Healthy Lives' After 10-Hour Separation Surgery

It's not so unusual for a pregnancy to result in twins, but nature is full of enough surprises that there's more to consider when this happens than whether they'll look the same or not.

That's because we can see twins share an amniotic sac in rare cases and many of those cases also feature a phenomenon called vanishing twin syndrome where one twin absorbs the other while in the womb.

But of course, there's also the possibility that those twins will end up conjoined together. And even then, how they end up joining can be just as unpredictable as whether it will happen.

I say all of that to express that it's hard to even calculate the odds that one pair of formerly conjoined twins would have the opportunity to live separate lives. And yet, we're about to see a case where that's exactly what happened.

When Maggie Altobelli of Chicago was 20 weeks pregnant, she would receive some life-changing news during what she thought would be a routine ultrasound.

According to People, she said, "I was trying to find out the gender of one baby I thought we were having, and then it turned out to be a little more complicated. It was an out-of-body experience."

Not only would she be having twins, but they would be joined together at the chest.

However, it wasn't long after this revelation that medical staff assured Altobelli and her husband Dom that they could be separated.

Although they shared a liver and a diaphram, they each had separate hearts and the liver was big enough that it could be divided between them.

But while that made them "excellent" candidates for separation surgery, the situation still gave the Altobellis a lot to worry about.

As Dom said, "It was quite a ride early on because me and Maggie were scared as hell and had no clue what was going to happen."

And those worries didn't exactly stop after little Addy and Lily were born on Nov. 18, 2020 via caesarean section.

Not only would they spend the next 10 months in intensive care at the Children's hospital of Philadelphia, but their medical closeness had some unexpected consequences for the sisters.

In Altobelli's words, "If Lily got upset … she would (control) the breathing. There were times where Addy had coded because she couldn't breathe because Lily would get upset."

Nonetheless, they were able to see this uncertain time through while doctors practiced on 3D models of their liver and got together the skin expanders that would prevent the twins' organs from being exposed.

But while this surgery was high-risk and would take about 10 hours to complete, it was also successful and Addy and Lily were separated on October 13.

As Altobelli put it, "To see them with their own bodies — their bodies were just so perfect — it was amazing. It was just indescribable."

And while both twins remain on feeding tubes and ventilators for the time being, the hope is that they can soon be weaned off them.

In Altobelli's words, "These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It's pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we're living this life."

h/t: People

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