Working for 17 hours through the night, a medical team of more than 50 recently gave two little California toddlers the chance at a better life.
Before Eva and Erika Sandoval were born, doctors discovered that they were conjoined, ABC News reports. Their mother, Aida Sandoval, chose life for them despite the high risks of the pregnancy.
Today, the now 2-year-old sisters are separate and doing well. On Dec. 6 into Dec. 7, the girls underwent a 17-hour separation surgery at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, California under the care of more than 50 doctors and other medical staff.
“It’s amazing how strong these girls are and it’s amazing what their team performed,” Aida Sandoval said. “Seeing them now in the ICU, you look at them and think ‘You’re missing your other half’ but we know that this is the right path for them: to be independent, have the chance to succeed and explore on their own everything the world has to offer.”
The family’s journey has not been easy. Reports on the family’s story do not mention abortion, but it likely was suggested as an option to the family. Aida’s pregnancy was considered high risk from the time the twins were discovered to be conjoined, according to the hospital; but she chose to give her daughters a chance at life.
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After they were born, Eva and Erika spent the first six months of their lives in the hospital, according to the hospital. They were conjoined at the lower half of their bodies, a condition called thoraco-omphalo-ischiopagus, the hospital reports. Most of Eva’s and Erika’s organs were separate, but they shared a liver, bladder and diaphragm muscle; they also had three legs.
The separation surgery and reconstruction surgeries took 17 hours on Dec. 6 into Dec. 7, according to the hospital. After the girls were separated, Eva’s medical team wheeled her into another operating room for the reconstruction part of her surgery, while Erika remained in the first room for her’s.
According to the hospital: “Now that Eva and Erika are separated, each child is missing about one-third of the abdomen and has one kidney and one leg. Both girls are expected to remain sedated and on ventilators for another day or two to help with pain control.”
On Wednesday, the hospital released a series of photos showing the girls separate for the first time. The twins remain in the intensive care unit, but the hospital reported they are doing well.
— Stanford Children’s (@StanfordChild) December 14, 2016
Lead surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman said the surgery went as well as could be expected. The medical team will keep monitoring them for possible future problems, but the girls may not need any more surgical interventions, he said.
“We set them up so that if everything heals well, they may not need any further surgery,” Hartman said.
The twins’ mom said she is happy that her daughters are doing so well.
“I can’t say enough about all the members of the care team, the surgeons, physicians, nurses and all the specialists. Every incision they made, I know God was there,” Sandoval said. “We know Erika and Eva are bound for great, amazing things.”