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September 6, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Separated twin girls doing well

Four-month-old con-joined twin girls were separated successfully yesterday after a nearly seven-hour surgery at the Shanghai Children's Medical center.

The two, nicknamed An An and Xin Xin, meaning safe and relieved in Chinese, are in stable condition and will be kept in the intensive care unit for at least a month, doctors said. They will be kept in a special room within the ICU to avoid infection while staying on two beds side by side for psychological comfort, doctors said.

The twins' mother, from Zhejiang Province, discovered that her twins were conjoined during a prenatal check 18 weeks into the pregnancy. The mother, who is 39 and suffered two miscarriages due to abnormal fetus development previously, kept the twins under the advice of local doctors after they were found to be connected only at the liver, chest bone and heart-sac, the coverage outside the heart.

"Luckily, they have separate hearts and the connection is not complicated," said Dr Liu Jinfen, president of Shanghai Children's Medical Center. "Though they were found to have congenital heart diseases during a prenatal check, the deformity is very trivial and can be cured by itself."

Liu said the hospital has separated three pairs of conjoined twins, but this was the first time for a pair that had been detected prenatally and thus were under doctors' close observation during much of the pregnancy. The mother moved to Shanghai for the prenatal check and birth.

The twins were sent to the medical center two hours after being born. "Compared with the previous two pairs that were transferred from other provinces to our hospital, we avoided infection and other risks," Liu said.

The twins, born on April 20, weighed 4.89 kilograms in total, and doctors waited for them to grow to about 10 kilograms before the surgery.

"Today's surgery ... has gone smoothly on every step, just as expected," Liu said. "It also set a good example on prenatal diagnostics. We will enhance research for detecting congenital deformity at an early stage of pregnancy to give parents proper ethical and medical suggestion."

Conjoined twins is a rare deformity, comprising one in every 50,000 to 100,000 births worldwide. But China has a high incidence of congenital deformities, impacting 800,000 to 1.2 million newborns each year.

The most prevalent are congenital heart disease, cleft lip and palate, deformity of the digestive tract, bone and muscle system, and deformity of the brain and spine.


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