Parents in Florida are delighted to let the world know today that their twin boys Carter and Conner survived their separation surgery. Millions of people around the world have been praying for the boys since their birth in December.
The boys had the first of two separation surgeries in January and the second one was performed earlier this week.
Michelle Brantley and fiance Bryan Mirabal had their first son Gage in January and less than a year later they are now proud parents of conjoined twins. Carter and Conner Mirabal were born one month early. They face each other, connected at the abdomen, and do not share organs — which was good news in terms of being able to surgically separate them.
The couple were surprised in the spring to hear that not only were they expecting identical twins, but the boys were conjoined facing each other from the sternum to the lower abdomen. Doctors initially told them that the boys may not make it to the 32nd week and that they had a 25 percent chance of surviving given their condition. But they rejected the idea of an abortion.
Carter and Conner, conjoined twin boys born Dec. 12, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla., underwent a successful separation surgery on May 7, 2015. The 12-hour surgery began at 7:11 a.m., led by a team of highly skilled pediatric specialists that included Daniel Robie, MD, chief of pediatric general surgery, and Nicholas Poulos, MD, pediatric general surgeon, for Nemours Children’s Specialty Care and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The boys were separated at 3:34 p.m.
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Conner’s surgery was finished at 6:29 p.m. and he was transferred from OR 8 to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Wolfson Children’s Hospital at 6:52 pm. Carter’s surgery ended at 6:47 p.m. and he was transferred to the PICU at 7:14 p.m. to join his brother.
The separation involved a 17-member surgical care team (blue for Carter, green for Conner and white for surgical support), including Stephen Dunn, MD, Division Chief of Solid Organ Transplant, for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., who travelled to Jacksonville to assist the team in separating Conner and Carter’s fused livers.
Leading up to the surgery, the twins’ integrated care team spent months preparing for the complexities of this separation, including MRI studies, a medical illustration of the conjoined areas, clinical and logistical simulations of the final separation surgery and specific procedures, and keeping the boys as healthy and strong as possible considering their multiple medical challenges.
“The 24 to 48 hours following surgery were crucial, but the boys are being ably cared for by our PICU team,” said Dr. Benjamin. “The twins are still critical but stable at this time, which is expected.”
She added, “Our ultimate goal is to prepare Carter and Conner for their lives as healthy and active boys.
Carter and Conner’s mother, Michelle, said, “We are so grateful to everyone who has taken care of our babies. We had so much confidence in them and they have been so good to us and to our family. We can’t wait to take Carter and Conner home!”