Houston doctors have successfully separated two identical twin girls conjoined at their chest and abdomen, a procedure so complex it required a multi-disciplinary team of 75 clinicians from eight specialties.
During a delicate seven-hour operation Jan. 13, Texas Children's surgeons divided 13-month-old Anna and Hope Richards, who shared their chest wall, lining of the heart, diaphragm and liver. In addition, they had a large blood vessel connecting their hearts.
"We've thought about and prayed for this day for almost two years," Jill Richards, the girls' mom, said in a statement. "It's an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds. We couldn't be more thankful to the entire team at Texas Children's for making this dream come true."
Texas Children's disclosed the surgery Monday. The family had requested no media coverage until now and are currently declining interview requests.
The separation surgery was only the second in Houston in more than 20 years. The previous one was nearly three years ago, when a team of more than 40 Texas Children's clinicians from seven specialties separated 10-month-olds Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata during a marathon 26-hour surgery. Previous separation surgeries in Houston were at Texas Children's in 1965 and 1992 and at Children's Memorial Hermann in 1997.
The Richards girls were born on Dec. 29, 2016, at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, weighing a combined 9 pounds, 12 ounces, months after their parents first learned they were conjoined during a routine ultrasound in North Texas.
The family was referred to Texas Children's Fetal Center, where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care. They temporarily relocated to Houston.