It is truly miraculous what doctors can achieve these days.
Now a surgeons have given a new lease of life to a pair of twins who were joined at the head.
13-month-old Anias and Jadon McDonald were successfully separated after a intensive 20-hour operation.
They are now recovering at the Bronx’s Montefiore Hospital after their life-threatening operation.
Their surgeon Dr James Goodrich says it is ‘incredible the twins made it this far.’
The doctors used 3D imaging to prepare for the exhaustive operation.
But half way through the operation, veteran neurosurgeon Dr James Goodrich considered stopping the procedure altogether, when they made an unexpected discovery.
The twin boys shared far more brain tissue than they had expected. With every cut baby Anias’ heart rate and blood pressure plummeted.
Thankfully Dr Goodrich found an opening and continued, successfully separating the two.
However, it meant that while Jadon was wheeled out at 7am into the ward, Anias was still in surgery
He was finally able to return to his family, but unfortunately doctors fear Anias could face severe physical issues.
Their parents Nicole and Christian, who live near Chicago, Illinois, sat in the waiting room and prayed the whole time.
Nicole, 31, took to Facebook on Friday to explain all the details to the thousands of people that have followed the family’s story.
‘The overall atmosphere was one of celebration mixed with uncertainty,’ she explained. ‘Anias really got rocked in this procedure. It really now is up to God in terms of how he recovers.’
Nicole added: ‘I keep picturing Anias smiling behind his right middle finger in his mouth. Twenty four hours ago he was so rambunctious…full of life. God please give me my baby back.’
Describing Jadon’s ordeal, Nicole wrote: ‘Jadon is such a rock star. They said he hardly batted an eye through the whole procedure in terms of maintaining his vitals.’
Mom Nicole continued: ‘It’s a bit surreal to sit here and type this…I should feel so happy…TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!!…and yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future.’
‘I didn’t cry until the surgeon’s left the room. I was barely able to even utter the words “thank you” because of the pit that still sits heavy in my stomach. We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown.’
Anias and Jadon were born via cesarean section last September in Chicago, Illinois. They were attached by the crown of the head.
31-year-old Nicole and her 37-year-old husband Christian insisted the boys were perfect as they were. But in order to let them lead a normal life, they have traveled to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, New York.
They had one of the world’s most esteemed surgeons perform the incredibly rare operation to separate their heads. The operation costs $2.5 million dollars.
‘I could almost keep them like this,’ Nicole told CNN before the operation, admitting that she had become attached to the boys as conjoined twins.
But the devoted mom said she knew this was for the best, but feared that something could go wrong during surgery. ‘This is so hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it,’ she said.
Anias and Jadon, who have a three-year-old brother Aza, are technically called ‘craniopagus twins.’
This is a phenomenon that occurs just once in every 2.5 million births. Based on national statistics, it is astonishing the babies made it to 13 months. Around 40 per cent of craniopagus twins are stillborn.
Of those that survive, a third die within 24 hours of birth. If craniopagus twins survive that point, there is still an 80 per cent risk they would die before the age of two if not separated.
Separation means one or both of the twins may suffer developmental complications. ‘We know that is definitely a real possibility, but we’re still going to love our boys,’ Dad Christian said before the surgery.
The surgical team has spent months practicing and planning their strategy using a physical 3D model of the boys’ heads, plus computerized 3D modeling.
‘This is about as complicated as it gets,’ Dr Goodrich told CNN. ‘I know the vascular system we have to go through is complex. ‘It’s big. It’s doable, but it’s going to be tedious.’
But despite the state-of-the-art technology, they were not prepared for the 5x7cm brain tissue the boys shared, that they had to separate. They boys then spent 72 hours in intensive care, then months in a rehab center.
According to Dr Goodrich, their speech skills will not be affected, given that he is dealing with the back of the brain, but there is a chance they will struggle with movement.
Dr Goodrich told CNN: ‘They have no back control because they’ve never sat up. They’ve never crawled.’ The family has health insurance, which covers a significant amount of the $2.5 million surgery. However, they are $100,000 short. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page.