10-month-old conjoined twins separated after 10-hour surgery: 'It was just indescribable'

10-month-old conjoined twins separated after 10-hour surgery: 'It was just indescribable'

·2 min read

A couple and hospital were celebrating after the separation of 10-month-old conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli.

Addison and Lilianna were joined at abdomen and chest, according to a news release from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The twins shared a liver, diaphragm, chest and abdominal wall.

Their parents, Maggie and Dom Altobelli, learned they were having conjoined twins at a 20-week ultrasound appointment.

“I was trying to find out the gender of one baby I thought we were having, and then it turned out to be a little more complicated,” Maggie told NBC's "Today."

“It was an out-of-body experience. It’s like, ‘What do you mean their stomachs are connected? Is this even a thing?”

Ultrasound of conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli.
Ultrasound of conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli.

Specialists at Children's Hospital determined the twins were good candidates for separation because they had separate healthy hearts and a large enough liver to divide between them, according to the release.

They were born on Nov. 18, 2020, and spent four months in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit before being transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where skin expanders were inserted to prepare Addison and Lilianna for surgery.

Nearly a year later, on Oct 13, 2021, the twins were separated after a 10-hour operation, and their parents saw them unattached for the first time.

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"To see them with their own bodies – their bodies were just so perfect – it was amazing," Maggie said, according to the release. "It was just indescribable."

On Dec. 1, Maggie and Dom flew back to their home in Chicago with one twin each. They spent two weeks at the Lurie Children's Hospital and were discharged right before the holidays.

Although both girls have breathing tubes to help with their oxygen levels, the twins are thriving and still like to be close to each other, according to "Today."

Conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli.
Conjoined twins Addison and Lilianna Altobelli.
Maggie and Dom Altobelli with their now separated twins Addison and Lilianna.
Maggie and Dom Altobelli with their now separated twins Addison and Lilianna.

“This is our journey. It’s a very special one in many ways,” Maggie told the outlet. “These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It’s pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we’re living this life.”

Conjoined twins happen once in every 50,000 to 200,000 births, according to a peer-reviewed study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. About 60% of conjoined twin pregnancies end in stillbirth – death of a baby before delivery – and 60% of separated conjoined twins survive after surgery.

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Conjoined twins successfully separated after 10-hour CHOP surgery

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