This week, surgeons in Rome successfully separated two-year-old twins with a rare congenital defect. Twins Ervina and Previna’s skulls were fused back-to-back and shared vital blood vessels — a condition that occurs around once in every 2 million births.
The 18-hour operation took place at the Vatican-owned Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome on June 5 and involved 30 doctors and nurses. The two sisters, from Bangui, Central African Republic, were brought to Italy in September 2018 after the hospital’s president saw the twins and their mother at a medical center where they were born. Tests conducted in Italy showed the twins were healthy but that one sister’s heart was working harder to maintain the “physiological balance of the organs of both, including the brain.”
The twins’ condition is known as total posterior craniopagus, which makes surgery particularly challenging due to the shared network of blood vessels that bring blood from the girls’ brains to their hearts. This week’s operation was the final of “three very delicate operations,” the hospital said in a statement. “A month after the final separation, the twins are fine.”
The risk of infection was still present and the girls will have to wear protective helmets for a few months. After a rehabilitation phase, it is expected that the twins will go on to lead a normal life for girls. Bravo!