Conjoined twins, Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith, were separated last week at Texas Children’s Hospital in a complicated procedure that spanned 26 hours. The 10-month-old twins were born face to face, sharing the chest wall, lungs, liver, diaphragm, intestines, colon, pelvis, and pericardial sac, which is the lining of the heart. Born nine weeks early, the twins beat the odds stacked against them from their first moment on this earth.
According to CBS News, the procedure to have the twins separated was so high risk and complicated that the doctors prepared for months. The specialized team included surgeons from the departments of pediatric surgery, pediatric gynecology, orthopedics, urology, plastic surgery, cardiovascular, and liver transplant surgery. Pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center, Dr. Darrell Cass, explained the detailed preparation.
“This surgery was not without its challenges, with the girls sharing several organ systems. Our team has been preparing for this surgery for months, and we’ve done everything from working with our radiology experts to build a 3D model of their organs, to conducting simulations of the actual separation surgery.”
The story of parents Eric and Elysse Mata began when they learned during an ultrasound that not only were they having twins, but the babies were joined at the chest. Conjoined twins’ survival rate is only 5 to 25 percent, reports ABC News. When given the chance to terminate the twins, Elysse adamantly refused, leaning on her faith in God.
“I told him, ‘I don’t care what the case is, I’m going to go as long as I can, and if God decides that he needs them more, then so be it.'”
The twins were born nine weeks early. During their stay in the NICU, the girls grew healthy and thrived. With that hurdle behind them, the parents of Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith had to turn their thoughts to the decision to have the twins separated or not. Instead of giving into the fear of the unknown, Elysse and Eric chose to have the twins separated, giving them a chance at independent living.
“I want to give them a shot at a normal life as much as possible. I feel like they’ve come this far, why hold back? Why not follow through? Why not give them that chance?”
Unfortunately, the twins had to remain in the NICU until it was time to be separated. The Matas, along with their five-year-old son, Azariah, moved into an RV close to the hospital.
Finally, the doctors were satisfied that the twins were healthy enough to be separated. On February 17, they began the operation. It took 18 hours just to have the twins separated, and several hours to work on each girl individually.
Knatalye and Adeline miraculously made it through the operation, and are now in recovery. This family’s exceptional faith in God brought them through the frightening experience of having their conjoined twins separated. May they continue to thrive for many years to come.