Conjoined Twin Baby Girls Separated After Six-Hour Surgery

Nima and Dawa were conjoined at the torso before successfully being separated today.

A medical team performs surgery in an operating room.
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Nima and Dawa were conjoined at the torso before successfully being separated today.

Conjoined 15-month-old Bhutanese girls were successfully separated in Australia on Friday after an intense six-hour surgery, The Australian reported.

Doctor’s at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital went into the operation knowing Nima and Dawa Pelden were connected at the torso and shared a liver, but were unsure of what they would find upon starting the surgery that could lead to complications, such as if the girls shared a bowel. The twins went into the operating room at 8 a.m. and finished before 4 p.m., which was well before the surgical team expected.

“We are here earlier because there weren’t anything inside the girls’ tummies that we weren’t really prepared for,” lead surgeon Dr. Joe Cramieri said during a post-surgery news conference that began being assembled at 2:30 p.m., and noted that the surgery was not a “land of surprises.”

He congratulated his 25-person team of surgeons, nurses and anesthetists, which included the Bhutan pediatrician that treated the twins since birth, and thanked them for all of their hard work.

“We saw two young girls who were very ready for this surgery, who were able to cope very well with the surgery, and are currently in our recovery doing very well, and we’re pleased with that, but that takes a lot of work, and I think they all need to be congratulated,” he said.

Dr. Crameri noted how fortunate they were to find that the girls did not have any significant bowel attachment, making the main challenge of the surgery reconstructing the abdomens so that both areas were closed over. He called out one of the plastic surgeons, Dr. Jonathan Burge, who assisted the team in getting muscle and skin closure for both girls.

The twins will be closely monitored, especially for the next 24 to 48 hours, which Dr. Crameri noted will prove to be challenging.

“We feel quietly confident that we will have a good result and that’s what I’ve just told mum upstairs, but as all post-operative things we have to closely monitor things now for a while to be sure that we achieve our aim.”

Nima and Dawa were brought to Australia in October by their mother, Bhumchu Zangmo, who was “very relieved” after the surgery finished up.

“I’ve just found out that she was very stressed today, so it has been a very difficult day for her,” Dr. Crameri said.

Expenses for the girls’ procedure and recovery were reported by The Australian to total at least $350,000 — a fee that the state government has offered to pay. Donations have also been given by many generous Australians, which will be put toward the twins’ rehabilitation and return home.