Family's relief as surgeons split twins in nine-hour op

Brooke Donald

TWIN two-year-old girls, who were joined at the chest and abdomen, have been separated in a complex operation.

The procedure that gave Philippines-born sisters Angelina and Angelica Sabuco their independence took a team of 40 people more than nine hours to complete.

"This is a dream come true," their mother, Ginady Sabuco, said through tears. "Words cannot express how the family feels."

The op was carried out at Stanford University children's hospital in the US.

The girls now face a second phase of surgery -- reconstructing the area where they were connected.

They were moved to the intensive care unit, each with a scar stretching from her chest to her belly.

Dr Gary Hartman, the lead surgeon, said the procedure went smoothly.

"The long-term prognosis is that we should have a happy, healthy set of girls. We don't see any barrier to a full recovery," Dr Hartman said.