Conjoined twins successfully separated at the head in 24-hour operation

A family was finally able to reunite under one roof after their conjoined twin daughters were successfully separated in a 24-hour surgery.


When she was 11 weeks pregnant, Liliya Mirochnik and her husband, Anatoliy Bachinskiy, were shocked to find out their twins were conjoined at the head.

But the pair, who already had three boys, took the news in stride.

"I’m still... feeling like I’m living someone’s life, not mine," Liliya said. "It was very tough. I just, was shocked. I couldn’t process. When I got home, my husband said everything would be good. We will get through it. [These are] our kids. We already love them."

It wasn’t a given that the twins would survive childbirth, but they did.

"They’re both really happy babies, not fussy ones. Very happy, always laughing, smiling, positive, always," Liliya said.

Still, it was difficult for her to find information on how to care for them.

"There is not much I can do... research, how to do, what to do, what to use, whatnot. Because it’s really rare," she said.

Dr. Michael Edwards, a neurosurgeon at the University of California-Davis Children’s Hospital, noted that in a given year, very few children are born with this condition globally.

That's what makes their successful operation so unique.

"Of those, there’s only a much smaller subset that the anatomy is fortuitous enough to be able to attempt a separation and hopefully come out with two healthy babies," Edwards said.

Using 3D models and virtual reality, Edwards spent five months figuring out how to separate the twins and keep them both alive.

"Where they are joined together, there is no skin currently, and we will have to replace skin on both twins once they are divided," said Dr. Granger Wong, a UC Davis pediatric plastic surgeon. "It is choreographed much as in a ballet or any state production so that everybody knows their role."

Except unlike most ballets, the surgery to separate their heads lasted 24 hours.

"It’s all in God’s hands," Liliya said. "It’s not even in doctors’ hands, that’s what I believe."

Abigail and Micaela made it through the surgery. Liliya spent time with the twins nearly every day, while Anatoliy cared for their sons at home.

A few months later, they were finally able to return home.

"I get my wife back," Anatoliy said. "I get not two girls, but I get three girls home."

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