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BusinessPhotos: THE MUM of conjoined twins Abby and Erin thanked the medical...

Photos: THE MUM of conjoined twins Abby and Erin thanked the medical team who successfully separated her daughters in a life-saving gruelling 11 hour operation in Philadelphia.

Photos: THE MUM of conjoined twins Abby and Erin thanked the medical team who successfully separated her daughters in a life-saving gruelling 11 hour operation in Philadelphia.

The set of twin girls Abby and Erin were born with a rare congenital anomaly that joined them at the cranium and shared key blood vessels and a protective membrane around their brains.

After months of appointments and tests, the little girls were separated in a marathon surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Pennsylvania .
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the successful surgery, Mum Heather Delaney from Mooresville, North Carolina, thanked the medical team of 30 people who operated on her daughters.

“Five years ago today these sweet girls went in for the biggest surgery of their lives. We waited for what felt like forever to hear the words “the girls are separated”.

“The moments following were scary, but we are beyond happy that the girls made it through. Happy separation day little girls.”

Mrs Delaney added on TikTok: “We are beyond grateful for Dr. Taylor and Dr. Heuer from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.”

Dr. Jesse Taylor, now chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at CHOP, and Dr. Gregory Heuer, the CHOP Director of Prenatal and Neonatal Surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery, have co-led the girls’ operations since they were born.

“Without them and all of the nurses and staff there, our girls wouldn’t have the life they have today. They have become our family over the years. Words can’t express our gratitude!”

The little girls were born by C-section 10 weeks premature on 24 July 2016 – after Mrs Delaney was told she was expecting conjoined twins at 11 weeks.
Being conjoined at the head is a rare occurrence with only six out of 10 million births, according to the CHOP.

There were huge concerns for Abby and Erin, whose heads were completely fused, with them sharing brain tissue and a superior sagittal sinus – a vessel that plays a crucial part in the brain’s blood drainage system.

The girls survived the frightening operation with no complications, but spent months in hospital as they recovered and received physical, speech and occupational therapy.

Little Erin was first discharged after over 14 months, followed by her sister a month later.

“It was touch and go for a while but in November of 2017, 485 days after the girls were born, we were able to go home,” Mrs Delaney said.

In July 2021, the twins underwent cranioplasty, when doctors put an implant into their heads to reshape and fix their skulls.

Since then, Mrs Delaney and her husband Riley have had to learn to cope with being parents to children with special medical needs, and are welcoming every new skill learned by the twins.

“It is crazy to think that in [two and a half] short months the girls will be turning six! I don’t know where the time has gone,” the twin’s mum said.

“It feels like just yesterday they were itty bitty babies and I was longing for them to be separate and home. If only I could have looked ahead and seen where we are now there would have been much less worrying.”

Because of a bleed on the brain, both little girls have a weak side and are non-verbal.

“They have a variety of special needs, but I assure you they are happy and healthy.

“For being non-verbal these two are quite chatty.”

While Erin has had a “little growth spurt”, Abby has learned how to walk in her stroller all by herself, and has taken her first steps.

Mrs Delaney explained: “Abby is able to sit on the tricycle and not fall off, she can balance on the seat without being held. She is holding the handles with TWO hands!”

The bubbly little girls’ distinctive personalities continue to shine.

“Whereas Erin is more likely to be off playing with her toys, Abby loves to be social and spend time with people, she is 100 per cent our social butterfly.”

The girls’ parents have decided to get Abby and Erin “back into school this coming year” – a step they are both “excited and nervous” about.

“We know that it will be so good for the girls socially to be around other kids.

“They will be able to work on communication with their teachers 24/7 and hopefully it will just broaden their horizons and give them a whole new wonderful world to explore. “

Abby and Ein will celebrate their sixth birthday on 24 July.


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