GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Conjoined twin girls who were connected at the heart and other organs have been successfully separated in an extremely rare surgery performed by physicians at University Florida Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
The girls, who were born at UF Health Shands Hospital in April and separated in June, each had their own complete set of organs but were attached at the liver, diaphragm, sternum and heart, called a thoraco-omphalopagus connection. Their hearts were the most critical element of the separation, according to Mark Bleiweis, M.D., chief of pediatric and congenital cardiovascular surgery at UF Health and the surgeon who performed the heart separation. The twins shared a connection at the upper chamber of the heart, called the atrium, where blood enters the heart.
“It was a really complex connection because it was close to very important veins in the hearts of both babies,” Bleiweis said. “In the world, there have not been many successful separations with a cardiac connection. It became a very challenging planning process for us, and, ultimately, a challenging separation.”
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