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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 27 February, 2020

Conjoined twin girls separated in London after 55 hours of surgery

Only one in every 2.5 million births produces conjoined twins.

TWO CONJOINED TWINS have been successfully separated after surgeons at a London hospital performed over 55 hours of surgery. 

Safa and Marwa Ullah were born in Charsadda, Pakistan in January 2017, conjoined at the head. Known as ‘craniopagus’ twins, their family did not even know that it was a twin pregnancy.

Only one in every 2.5 million births produces conjoined twins and only 5% of those are craniopagus.

After initial consultation with doctors in Pakistan, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London admitted the twins to its Bumblebee Ward in autumn 2018.

100 staff members at the hospital then set about preparing a four-month, four-stage separation process involving multiple specialties across the hospital – craniofacial, neurology and psychology experts, to nurses, radiologists and physiotherapists.

In the first such a procedure at the Great Ormond since 2011, the team at the hospital undertook a detailed assessment of the twins, their brains and blood vessels. 

A plan was then drawn up. During the first three procedures, surgeons focused on separating the twins’ brains and blood vessels. 

A piece of plastic was then placed between the two brains. Tissues expanders were inserted to stretch the skin and the team then reconstructed the heads using the girls’ bone. The twins’ heads were then covered with expanded skin.

“Four operations, 55 hours of operating time – and a fond farewell! After 9 months of care, the twins and their family left GOSH on 1 July,” the hospital tweeted yesterday.  “Safa and Marwa have a long road ahead – but we are hopeful they will be able to live active, happy lives!”

Both twins are now recovering at home with their family.

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