A pair of conjoined twins has been separated by 18 medical specialists operating for six hours at a Melbourne hospital. The twins, Nima and Dawa Pelden, were born in Bhutan 15 months ago. They came to Australia last month for the surgery, but doctors waited until their nutritional needs were improved, the BBC reported.
An Australian-based charity, called the Children First Foundation, brought the family to Melbourne, and the state of Victoria offered to pay the A$350,000 (£195,000) cost of the operation.
Nima and Dawa shared a liver, just like the famous Chang and Eng Bunker, who were the original “Siamese twins”.
The Bunker twins lived their lives conjoined, but the Pelden twins will not have to. The doctors divided their liver into two, and they will each live with a half liver. The doctors were not certain what other anatomical features would be shared until they opened up the children, but they said that the surgery was not as complicated as they feared it would be, according to the BBC.
Conjoined twins are exceedingly rare, and it is even rarer for both to be born alive and healthy. Separating twins can be particularly challenging because each set is different.
“Even if they’re joined at the same area, they’re all different,” Lewis Spitz, an expert in conjoined twins at University College London, told Newsweek. “One has to be very aware of the difference, because it can affect how separation takes place.” Mr Spitz has written about the ethics of managing births of conjoined twins; making a decision is sometimes difficult if separating them could harm one or both twins.
Nima and Dawa are currently breathing on their own and are expected to make a full recovery.