Saturday 1 October 2016

Conjoined twins given slim chance of survival prepare for first day of school

Rosie and Ruby Formosa, 4, were born with a condition that affects just one in 200,000 live births

Rachael Pells

Published 30/08/2016 | 10:08

Twins Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine, are due to start school in September: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Twins Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine, are due to start school in September: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

CONJOINED twins who were given a slim chance of survival are now preparing for their first week at school.

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Rosie and Ruby Formosa, aged four, from Bexleyheath in Kent, were born joined at the abdomen and shared an intestine, meaning they needed an emergency operation to separate them.

Their parents, Angela and Daniel Formosa were told their daughters had a minimal chance of survival when doctors discovered they were conjoined.

But after successful operation at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh), the identical twins have grown up healthy and will begin their first year of primary school in September.

Ms Formosa, 35, said the twins were “very excited” to be starting school.

“Four years ago it wasn't in my mind that this would ever happen,” she told the Press Association.

Twins Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine, are due to start school in September: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Twins Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine, are due to start school in September: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

“When I was pregnant I didn't think I'd ever see their first day at school so it is really amazing and all thanks to Gosh really.”

Conjoined twins occur when a mother produces a single egg, which does not fully separate after fertilisation. The rare condition affects one in every 200,000 live births.

Ms Formosa said it was “heartbreaking” when she discovered the girls were conjoined at 16 weeks.

“I was already worried that they were monoamniotic (where twins share an amniotic sac), and conjoined was the worst-case scenario,” she said.

Undated family handout file photo of twin girls Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa, who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine: Family handout/PA Wire
Undated family handout file photo of twin girls Rosie (left) and Ruby Formosa, who were born joined at the abdomen and shared part of the intestine: Family handout/PA Wire

“I was really, really, really scared and really upset because at that point I was told that there was a high possibility that the girls wouldn't survive the pregnancy.

”And if they did survive the pregnancy they might not survive the birth, then they might not survive surgery.

“They couldn't tell what was connecting them.

”I didn't prepare to bring them home. It wasn't until they were in hospital and they'd had their operation that my husband started painting the bedroom and getting everything ready for them.“

Rosie and Ruby were born at University College Hospital in London by caesarean section when Mrs Formosa was 34 weeks pregnant.

Within a couple of hours of being born, they were taken to Gosh for emergency surgery because of an intestinal blockage.

Praising the staff at the world-renowned children's hospital, Mrs Formosa added: ”They had a look and did scans and all sorts of tests and it wasn't until they got into surgery that they saw what was going on.

“It was on-the-spot decisions as to what was to be done.”

The twins underwent a five-hour operation to separate them, and were well enough to go home after three weeks. Four years later, they are due to join their older sister Lily at primary school.

“They've met their teacher a few times and they love their teacher,” said Ms Formosa.

”They're looking forward to painting, anything messy, they love reading.

“They are very similar… headstrong and very determined, which I knew they were from when they were in my belly because of the way they kept growing and surviving.”

Professor Paolo De Coppi, consultant paediatric surgeon at Gosh, said: ”Over the last 30 years we have treated 27 sets of conjoined twins at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“The surgery is highly complex and requires teams from across the hospital to work together and combine a whole range of expertise.

”We're thrilled that Rosie and Ruby are starting school this September.

“It's always a joy to witness patients' progress and to hear that they are reaching new milestones — this makes the job we do all the more rewarding.”

Independent News Service

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