A set of conjoined twins were successfully separated at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) by Dr. James Goodrich and his team. This is Dr. Goodrich’s seventh separation surgery.
Nicole and Christian had to make a tough decision to separate their twins conjoined at the head. With the risks involved with separating Craniopagus twins, the couple decided to put their children’s life in the hands of Dr. James Goodrich. Dr. Goodrich has completed six separations prior to this set, and according to CNN, the 59th craniopagus separation surgery in the world. His last successful separation was Clarence and Carl Aguirre back in 2004, twins from the Philippines.
Nicole posted on Facebook after the surgery, stating that the children did share some brain tissue, further raising the risk for one or both of the twins to have brain damage.
While the twins remain incubated for at least a week, Nicole and Christian remain optimistic for Anias and Jadon.
“So we just took a huge leap of faith, but now we are back to taking baby steps. In fact, 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.”
Nicole did say that Jadon was out of surgery before Anias, and it appears as though Anias may have had a bit more of a difficult surgery, Shared reports.
“Anias really got rocked in this procedure. It really now is up to God in terms of how he recovers.”
According to ABC 7, the surgery lasted over 16 hours and they will both need additional surgeries to rebuild their skulls.
Nicole is happy, yet obviously scared with what the future may hold for her two boys.
“I should feel so happy…TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!!…and yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future.”
Dr. Goodrich, according to Nicole, is a leading surgeon for craniopagus separation. Nicole revealed that due to the boys sharing nearly four times the brain tissue than the high-tech images showed, Dr. Goodrich even considered stopping the surgery because he thought it was too risky.
“But an opening presented itself and they went for it. It ended up being the right call.”
Nicole called Jadon a “rock star” and said that his vitals stayed maintained during the whole procedure.
While Nicole and Christian have made it clear that they do not want to be a public icon, they want to simply share their story to emphasize how brilliant Dr. Goodrich and his team is. So, in order to fully comply with their wishes, we would like to share a background on the amazing team who made it possible for these conjoined twins to lead separate lives in the future.
According to Montefiore, Dr. James Goodrich is a Pediatric Neurological Surgeon. He received his Masters and Doctorate of Philosophy at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Columbia University. Further, Dr. Goodrich pursued and received his Doctorate of Medicine from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The University of Palermo in Italy has recognized Dr. Goodrich, as he holds the rank of Professor Contralto of Neurological Surgery. He uses advanced surgical techniques for complex craniofacial anomalies and is able to repair those types of conditions.
Nicole and Christian would like to recognize Kamilah, Dr. Goodrich’s Nurse Practitioner. Nicole said that Kamilah was her “go-to woman.”
“In her spare time (ha) she literally coordinates most of the details of our life. From how we get the boys into the hospital for an appointment to getting Aza an antibiotic today when we found a big, festering spider bite on his arm. If Anias sneezes, I call Kamilah. She answers all of my calls, even at midnight when I freak out about having to flush a PICC line for the first time. I probably say, ‘I’ll just call Kamilah’ 5 times a day.”
Further, the couple would like to share their wonderful experience with Dr. Tepper and Martine, also a part of Dr. Goodrich’s team. Nicole revealed that Dr. Tepper and Martine, part of the Plastic Surgery team at CHAM, planned the boys’ head reconstruction and was responsible for filling the tissue expanders.
“These two have talked me down from many fits of anxiety over the last month as the surgery date approached. Dr. Tepper has had the tireless job of filling the tissue expanders and meticulously planning the reconstruction of the boys’ heads. With each tissue expander appointment, the boys would scream in pain but both he and Martine would console them and gave me so much reassurance that it would all be ok.”
Nicole also wanted to recognize the anesthesiologists, Dr. Kahana and Dr. Mann. Dr. Kahana sat through all 30 hours of the boys’ surgery, and both of the anesthesiologists were very committed to the twins. Nicole wrote the following.
“It’s because of their commitment to my boys that Anias does not have a tracheotomy. I’ll never forget when Anias went into heart failure in the middle of the night after his last surgery. Dr Mann and Dr Kahana came racing in at midnight to re-intubate the boys. It was Dr Kahana who recognized the heart failure after intubation.”
Of course, Nicole couldn’t finish there. She and her husband wanted to recognize the neuroradiologist, Jack, who worked side-by-side with Dr. Goodrich as they went through each and every image to determine every cut and plan during the boys’ surgery.
Lastly, the PICU staff was there for them each and every step of the way.
“And what about the PICU staff…from the attending doctors to the janitors…these people are the ones who dealt with us on a daily basis, and always with a smile. Montefiore really is something special.”
Nicole and Christian’s success story is certainly amazing, but even more amazing are the doctors and team who were the heart and soul of the boys’ separation. From each visit and through the entire surgery, to the boys’ recovery, this amazing team at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) made it possible for these twins to live separate lives and lead a new future.
[Featured Image by Mary Altaffer/AP Images]