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US doctors separate conjoined twin girls

Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen spent their first five months looking eye to eye, often bumping legs and arms.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 09:10 IST

Surgeons have separated five-month-old twins born joined at the chest and abdomen, untangling their livers, repositioning their hearts and dividing a shared intestine during nearly seven hours of surgery.

Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen spent their first five months looking eye to eye, often bumping legs and arms and touching each other in the face.

That changed at 4:28 pm on Friday when surgeons at the Mayo Clinic cut the last tissue connecting the girls "for the first time, completely separating the two young twins," said Mayo Clinic spokesman Lee Aase.

"The family is elated," he said.

The girls' livers were intertwined and they also were joined at the diaphragm and the pancreas, and shared part of an intestine.

Doctors said that the surgery was complicated but that there was a 90 per cent to 95 per cent chance that both girls would survive.

A medical team of about 30 people took part in the operation. The girls' parents, Amy and Jesse Carlsen of Fargo, North Dakota, helped take them to the operating room shortly after sunrise.

The separation surgery was like one major surgery after another.

Conjoined twins occur once in every 70,000 to 100,000 live births, according to the John Hopkins Children Centre.

Since the mid-1990s, there have been about 250 surgical separations in which one or both twins survived, according to the American Peditric Surgical Association.