PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the first time, we’re seeing the newest pair of conjoined twins separated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It’s an incredible story of survival.
It’s been four months since Abby and Erin Delaney were separated. Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say the 15-month-old formerly conjoined twins are doing well but they will need more reconstructive surgery on their skulls.
Their parents, Heather and Riley, who live in North Carolina, came to CHOP as soon as they learned she was carrying twins conjoined at the head.
“When the girls were born, they were two pounds, one ounce a piece,” Heather explained. “So, they were able to fit in my shirt and do skin to skin with them. So, they’ve grown a lot.”
Before the surgery, there were months of detailed planning. Doctors knew it was risky; there was a chance they could lose both babies.
Neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer said, “This is scary, and we’re scared, but we can’t let fear limit our ability to operate. We have to do the operation that needs to be done.”
Part of the planning involved using tissue expanders to slowly stretch skin that would be needed once the girls were separated.
In June, the twins were finally ready for the separation surgery, with a final goodbye from their parents.
The surgery lasted for 11 hours. And after they were separated, there was suddenly a complication with Abby, who had a lot of bleeding.
It was a difficult post-surgical talk with the parents.
“I was really close to losing her,” Dr. Heuer explained. “I worried about her brain swelling.”
There were some scary days, but Abby survived.
Now, Heather can finally play dress up with her two girls.
“They’re such happy, content little girls for what they’ve gone through,” she said. “They’ve never lived outside hospital walls and they’re still happy.”
Erin has been discharged but Abby remains hospitalized.
The family is hoping to be able to go home together for Thanksgiving.