Surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) successfully separated 10-month-old conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata. According to a Feb. 23 news release, the twins underwent 26 hours of separation surgery Feb. 17.
Knatalye and Adeline were born April 11, 2014 in Lubbock, Texas. Following an ultrasound three months before their birth, their mother, Elysse Mata, learned she was carrying conjoined twins. Delivered by Caesarean section and born facing each other, the girls weighed 3 pounds 7 ounces each.
In December 2014, Knatalye and Adeline – who have been cared for in the TCH neonatal intensive care unit since their birth — underwent five hours of surgery to allow doctors to implant balloon-like tissue expanders in their chest and abdomen areas. The expanders were designed to stretch the babies’ skin in preparation for their separation surgery.
Last week, more than 26 clinicians worked as a multidisciplinary team to separate the girls, who shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. Team members included 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses among others. Surgical subspecialties involved in the operation included pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, urology, liver transplant surgery, orthopedic surgery and pediatric gynecology.
“This is the first time a separation for thoraco-omphalo-ischiopagus twins with this particular configuration has been successful,” lead surgeon Darrell Cass, MD, pediatric surgeon, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center, and associate professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, said in the news release.
“This surgery was not without challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems. Our team has been preparing for this surgery for months and we’ve done everything from working with our radiology experts to build a 3-D model of their organs, to conducting simulations for the actual separation surgery,” added Cass.
Knatalye and Adeline emerged from surgery stable, breathing well, and with good blood pressure. “These girls are now going to have the potential of having an independent life,” Cass told TODAY.
In an interview last September, an optimistic Elysse Mata explained the babies’ middle names to Houston’s KHOU, “You can’t have hope without faith and you can’t have faith without hope. And if one baby had gone, the other would too. And so right away I knew you have hope and faith.”
The overjoyed Matas still have their babies, but now they have them as individual girls. “We are so grateful to all of the surgeons and everyone who cared for our daughters and gave them the incredible chance to live separate lives,” said their mother.
Knatalye and Adeline will remain under the care of a multidisciplinary team in the TCH pediatric intensive care unit for a couple of months to continue their recovery. Future surgeries are anticipated.