An Irish couple recently gave birth to conjoined twin boys, making them the first conjoined twins born to an Irish mother since 2005. The boys were born at University College Hospital in London, were cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital also in London, and were transferred to Cork University Maternity Hospital after they were deemed strong enough to return home to Ireland. The boys have been described as being “medically very well.” It is likely that a separation surgery will take place later this year.
The twins will be heading home soon and their parents, who wish to remain anonymous, have asked the media and the public to respect their privacy, and allow them to spend time with their twin sons. The boys will need to grow and get stronger before doctors can attempt to separate them.
The parents have instructed the hospitals not to disclose how the twins were conjoined. However, it is speculated that the boys are joined at the torso, with separate hearts and circulation systems, otherwise doctors would not be discussing separating them. Surgically separating conjoined twins is a risky procedure. Therefore, surgeons take the decision to separate quite seriously.
Not all conjoined twins can be safely separated. However, those that can be safely separated have a good chance of survival (around 80 percent) if the twins are given ample time to grow and get strong, and the operation can be planned well in advance.
Great Ormond Street Hospital is the most experienced center in Europe at assessing and separating conjoined twins. They have separated 21 pairs of conjoined twins and took care of nine sets of twins who were unable to be separated. Great Ormond Street Hospital has also successfully separated twins joined at the brain but this is very uncommon.
According to Mr. Edward Kiely, Consultant Pediatric Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, “We have the two most experienced surgeons in the UK in this work leading a team of expert nurses, doctors, and other health professionals, providing the full range of expertise needed.” Mr. Kiely also stated, “If all goes according to plan the children will return to Great Ormond Street Hospital later in the year.”
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