It took an incredible 23 operations leading up to the momentous 11-hour separation surgery for these twin girls, born conjoined at the head. They then spent five more months recovering in the hospital, and now, at the age of 15 months, one of them is finally returning home.
Conjoined at the skull, Abby and Erin Delaney were born with a rare condition that affects one out of around 70,000 in the United States. They were successfully separated on June 6, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
The sisters from Mooresville, North Carolina, were born 10 weeks premature on July 24, 2016, at the CHOP Garbose Family Service Delivery Unit, and they lived their first year inside the hospital walls. The family waited while a team of doctors planned and executed a series of surgeries that culminated in the twins’ separation many months later.
“The ability to plan and carry out this type of surgery is testament to the skill and expertise available here at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said N. Scott Adzick MD, CHOP’s surgeon-in-chief. “I’m extremely proud of Dr. Heuer, Dr. Taylor and the entire CHOP team, and I’m thrilled that Erin and Abby have a promising future because their courageous parents entrusted their daughters to our care.”
Reconstructive surgeon Dr. Jesse Taylor said that this was one of the earliest craniopagus (twins conjoined at the head) separation surgeries ever recorded.
“We know that children heal better and faster the younger they are, therefore our goal for Erin and Abby was separation as soon as possible with minimum number of surgeries,” he said in a press release.
Five months after surgery, Erin was discharged, while Abby remains in the hospital, according to CHOP.
Meanwhile, now the sisters are able to roll over, sit up, crawl, and be held separately in their parents’ arms.
“Although this has been a long journey, with many ups and downs, Riley and I are thrilled to see how well the girls are doing today,” Heather Delaney, the twins’ mother, said in a statement. “We are so grateful for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia team, and for the support and encouragement that our families, our friends and the community have given us during this long journey.”
The girls will still require many more operations down the road to introduce bone to shore up their skulls and straighten their hairlines. Recently, it was announced that Abby was leaving ICU. Let’s wish her a speedy recovery so she can return home soon!