Conjoined Twins Successfully Separated in Chile

There’s happy news from Chile today, where doctors have succeeded in separating conjoined twin girls in an epic 20-hour surgery. The 10-month-old twins, Maria Jose and Maria Paz, are now recovering in an ICU, with the next couple of days in their short lives crucial – doctors say an infection could create complications.

Parents Jessica Navarrete and Roberto Paredes kept a vigil at Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital in Santiago, during what was the seventh and most complex operation yet for the twins. The pair were separated at the thorax, stomach and pelvis.

Chief surgeon Francisco Ossandon described the moment of successful separation as, “the girls [finishing] the process of being born,” and added, “before, they had two souls and one body.”

The surgery itself proved tough and was laden with difficulties for the team of doctors, yet such obstacles were overcome, and the parents were shown on Chilean TV gazing down at the sleeping girls from beside their separate cribs. TV stations in Chile reportedly broke into regular programming to broadcast updates from the doctors, both during and after the surgery.

The twins were a particularly challenging case, as they shared many of the same internal organs and even urinary system. A team of 100 participated in the surgery, including 25 surgeons. As it happens, the Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital has a sound track record with conjoined twins – staff have successfully separated three sets before.

Good luck to the girls, and well done to the docs. Even now it amazes me what medical science can achieve.