(TMX) – Conjoined twin sisters JamieLynn Rae and AmieLynn Rose Finley were successfully separated in an 11-hour surgery Monday at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, a first for the facility.
Parents James Finley and Amanda Arciniega of Saginaw, Texas, learned they were having twins at their 10-week ultrasound. Then they learned the girls were conjoined, but scans showed they each had their own heart and heart sac, increasing their chances for future separation.
Maternal-fetal specialist Bannie Tabor, M.D., who practices at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and is also the medical director for neighboring Cook Children’s Fetal Center, followed Arciniega’s pregnancy and brought in numerous specialists to help prepare for the birth.
On Oct. 3, 2022, JamieLynn and AmieLynn were delivered via C-section at 10:40 a.m. at Texas Health Fort Worth, and remained in the NICU. A month later, they were transferred to the NICU at Cook Children’s Medical Center.
“As far as conjoined twins that reach and stay viable after birth, at least for the first few days, there’s really only about five to eight of those per year on the entire planet, so it is very rare,” said Jose Iglesias, M.D., Cook Children’s medical director of pediatric surgery.
The girls were connected at the abdomen, face-to-face, and shared a liver. They were growing, but not at the same rate, due in part to sharing a blood supply. “One is stealing groceries from the other, basically,” said neonatologist Chad Barber, M.D.
On top of that, their hearts were growing closer together, and AmieLynn began to develop scoliosis. At nearly four months old, it was time for separation.
Dr. Barber and neonatologist Mary Frances Lynch, M.D chose a color for each girl, purple for JamieLynn and green for AmieLynn, and colored their nails to ensure doctors would be able to tell them apart.
For the first few hours of the procedure, doctors delivered anesthesia, carefully observing how medicating one girl affected the other due to their shared blood supply.
Once the girls were asleep, the separation officially began at 12:28 p.m. At 3 p.m., the twins were officially separated and lying on their backs for the first time. Each baby, with their own surgeon, was then evaluated for any anomalies, and closed up.
Dr. Barber estimates at least 100 medical professionals have been involved in the girls’ surgical planning and day-to-day care.
“The challenges the girls may face after surgery are very difficult to fully prepare for,” said Dr. Lynch. “We do still have some unknowns as far as how their shared vasculature and their shared anatomy and positioning over these last three months will affect them.”
“I’m very hopeful that they’re going to have a good recovery and lead healthy lives in the future,” Dr. Iglesias said. “They’re going to have a bit of a ramp up from the recovery, but I think they’re going to be able to get there eventually, and very close to normal if not completely normal.”
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