This might prove to be one of the most difficult surgery yet for this Conjoined twins who are undergoing one of the riskiest separations surgeries ever performed.
Two-year-olds Eva and Erika Sandoval share a digestive system, a uterus, a liver, a bladder, and a third leg with a seven-toed foot.
On Tuesday at 7am, they were wheeled into the operating theater at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for what was expected to be an 18-hour operation.
The surgery – involving 50 orthopedic, plastic, and urology surgeons – carries a 30 percent risk that one or both of them won’t make it.
Eva will likely keep their bladder, while Erika gets a colostomy bag.
Erika, the weaker twin, may keep their third leg while Eva gets the other two.
Both will be missing vital body parts; both will need significant reconstruction of their lower bodies.
‘This is a worrisome number because in most cases doctors only perform with a tenth of a percent chance of fatality,’ their parents Aida and Arturo wrote on their Facebook page.
‘It’s hard to see the numbers and find comfort on the odds.
‘But … from the beginning our girls have superseded the doctors expectations of life and will continue to show us their strength.’
Lead surgeon Dr Gary Hartman told the Sacramento Bee the biggest concern is preventing blood loss when it comes to severing the liver and the pelvic bone.
Once the 18-hour separation is over, each girl will be taken into separate operating rooms for ‘extensive reconstruction from the abdomen down,’ the Bee reports.
Aida and Arturo made the painstaking decision to attempt separating them last year, as it became clear that with every month more issues arose.
From the beginning our girls have superseded the doctors expectations of life and will continue to show us their strength
Parents Aida and Arturo Sandoval
They have been hospitalized with dozens of urinary tract infections and countless cases of dehydration.
And it gets worse with time.
Their operation is one of the most complicated procedures surgeons at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford have ever faced – so complicated that the operation keeps getting pushed back.
After originally planning to perform the surgery in January this year, the team decided on the first week of December.
Surgeons have spent the last few months inserting tissue expanders, a common tactic in separation of conjoined twins.
It was a way of stretching the skin gradually so that, when it came to the reconstruction surgery, they have more to move and manipulate.
In a lengthy profile of the family, the Sacramento Bee last month described how the cost and scale of the operation – and pre-surgery – has taken such a heavy toll on the family.
Aida was urged to abort the little girls when she and Arturo surprisingly fell pregnant two years ago – when she was 44 and he 49.
Without hesitating, the religious couple – who already have three kids in their 20s – went ahead with the pregnancy.
But life was becoming insurmountably difficult for the girls.
Aida has been forced to move to Palo Alto to live close to the hospital with the girls while Arturo continues his construction work near their home in Antelope, California, the Bee reported.
Nonetheless, Aida told the paper she maintains her faith: ‘You just have to remember that doctors tell you the worst.
‘I have faith in God, and I know that if it’s meant to be, it will be.
‘They want life, and they’re going to fight for it.’
She said she was confident that the surgery would be a success, and that it would allow Erika – the smaller and weaker of the two – to grow into her own person.
The Bee calls Eva ‘the larger and more dominant twin’ and describes how she carries them both around.
‘She thrust forward with two arms and one thick leg, while her sister scrambled to support herself on spaghetti-thin limbs, sometimes giving up entirely and letting herself be dragged along,’ reporter Sammy Caiola writes.
Aida told the paper: ‘In moments where one is tired or she’s sick, and the other wants to go play, I want her to be able to do that.
‘That’s something they’ll get when they’re separated – their individual limelight.’
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