Thirteen-month-old twins joined at the head were successfully separated on Friday
After a grueling 16-hour surgery, 13-month-old conjoined twins, Jadon and Anias McDonald, are spending their first day apart. The boys were successfully separated on Friday by Dr. James Goodrich, a surgeon at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, according to CNN.
The boys’ mother, Nicole, took to Facebook to announce the news of the boys’ successful surgery, but also to let people know that the twins’ are far from out of the woods.
“I should feel so happy,” McDonald said in a Facebook post on Friday, October 14. “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.”
The conjoined twins shared a blood vessel and brain tissue, but making separation difficult and risky. Without a clear plane for dissection, McDonald said that Dr. Goodrich made the final cuts “on his instinct.”
“The overall atmosphere was one of celebration mixed with uncertainty,” McDonald wrote. She said that Anias had a particularly hard time with the procedure. His blood pressure and heart rate dropped with each cut, but stabilized after being the boys were fully separated and he is currently on medication to keep this blood pressure stable. McDonald wrote that her son may not be able to move one or both sides of his body, and doctors are monitoring him for brain swelling and stroke.
“There was a point where Dr. Goodrich debated stopping the whole procedure because it was just too risky,” McDonald wrote. “But an opening presented itself and they went for it and it ended up being the right call.”
The twins’ parents faced an incomprehensibly difficult decision of whether to have the boys undergo the separation surgery or not. The procedure presented several major risks, including the possibility of death or long-term brain damage to one or both boys, but not operating presented its own risks as well. In fact, according to CNN, 80 percent of twins joined at the head die of medical complications by age two if they are not separated.
The next few months will be touch-and-go for the boys, and the recovery process is uncertain. The boys were all smiles before the surgery yesterday, and now they are in a precarious and vulnerable recovery phase.
“We just took a huge leap of faith, but now we are back to taking baby steps,” McDonald wrote. “I’m pretty sure I’m still frozen in space and time…in the smiles of yesterday morning. I’ll be hanging out there until I see those smiles again.”
Jadon and Arias’ separation was the seventh and longest separation surgery performed by the doctor and just the 59th of its kind in the world since 1952.
The twins will remain intubated for about a week, according to McDonald, and a GoFundMe page has been created to help cover medical costs.
“If there was ever a time that we needed prayers in this entire voyage…this would be the time.”