Photos: Conjoined Ugandan twins separated in a 16-hour operation

Doctors at a central Ohio hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, have successfully separated conjoined 11-month-old twin girls in a 16-hour operation. The twins were born attached at the pelvic and hip region. A statement released by a public relations agency says that Acen and Apio were recovering at the children’s hospital after the complex procedure that lasted 16 hours last Thursday.


After being told the surgery was successful, the mother of the twins Esther Akello threw up her arms before giving Dr. Besner an emotional hug.

“The parents’ faces when you tell them the babies are separated is something that you will never get out of your mind,” Besner said. “You will remeber it for the rest of your life” she added.

The operation was conducted by a surgical team of more than 30 specialists. They undertook a delicate job of separating the spinal cord after identifying which muscles and nerves belonged to Acen and Apio, Gail Besner, the chief of Pediatric Surgery at hospital explained.

Highlighting the complexity of the operation, Besner said tissue expanders had to be placed underneath the twins’ skin earlier this year to prepare for their separation. The twins are expected to stay longer at the hospital before returning home since the will both need to have one additional surgery to remove their colostomies which they have had since shortly after birth.

According to the statement, two neurosurgeons focused on one sister each and assisted each other to delicately divide their intertwined spinal cords. The specialists also performed operations to create an anal opening for each of the twins since neither twin was born with the organ.

Pioneering technology including pre-operative 3D modeling, as well as intra-operative neurophysiological monitoring, were used during the operation, the statement revealed.

Jeffrey Leonard, the chief of neurosurgery at Nationwide Children’s said imaging helped guide the medical team’s understanding of the twins’ anatomy. The twins’ mother praised the work done by the hospital saying: “Without Children’s Hospital of Colorado, neither of my daughters would have has a chance”


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