Surgeons hope to separate conjoined twins within months
SURGEONS will attempt to separate conjoined Irish twin boys who were hailed by their parents last night as "two little fighters".
It is understood the twins do not share single, critical organs like the liver and heart -- of crucial importance for the London surgeons who will attempt the intricate operation in the months ahead.
The boys were born to a Cork mother six weeks ago in London's University College Hospital (UCH) where she had been transferred for specialist medical care.
The mother -- who does not wish to be identified -- travelled to London for the birth in mid-December after consultation with doctors at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).
Both parents have declined to comment on the nature of the twins' conjoining. But the couple hailed their babies' resilience.
The care of the twins is now shared between CUMH and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children-NHS Trust (GOSH) in London, one of the world's leading paediatric hospitals.
They have been thriving since birth and are ready to be allowed home to build their strength.
The boys are the first conjoined twins born to an Irish mother since 2005.
They are not believed to be joined at the torso.
In a statement, the couple said they were absolutely delighted with how things had progressed so far. "We are very proud of our two little boys and we feel blessed by their arrival six weeks ago," the parents said.
"We needed time together first as a family and to see how the boys were doing. Presently, they are feeding well and (gradually) gaining weight.
"We are planning for the boys to come home soon and we are asking the media and the public to let us enjoy this special time with our two little fighters before their separation later this year," they added.
The couple said they had been overwhelmed by the support and kindness shown to them by medical teams.
"We would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all the wonderful people who cared for us and the boys at University College Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Cork University Maternity Hospital," they said.
"We would also like to thank our family and friends who have helped us through such a difficult time and let them know just how much we appreciate their ongoing support".
A spokesperson for CUMH said both boys were doing extremely well.
"Both boys are medically very well, taking their feeds and gaining weight. The neonatal team in Cork is working closely with the family and Great Ormond Street Hospital with the boys' treatment and clinical care."
Surgeons hope that the boys will gain sufficiently in strength to allow for a separation procedure later this year.
Just one in three sets of conjoined twins who survive birth are suitable for separation surgery.
The Health Service Executive-South last night declined to comment on the matter beyond what the twins' parents have said.
Immediately the woman was diagnosed with conjoined twins last year, a special medical support team was established for her at CUMH.
The team liaised with colleagues in London, which has one of the world's specialist centres for care of conjoined twins.
GOSH consultant paediatric surgeon Edward Kiely said medical teams were planning for a possible separation procedure later this year.
"If all goes according to plan the children will return to Great Ormond Street Hospital later in the year," said Mr Kiely.
"The surgical team here is the most experienced in Europe at assessing and if necessary separating conjoined twins," he added.