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‘Space-age’ surgery: Conjoined twins with fused brains separated in 27-hour operation

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Bernardo (left) and Arthur Lima after the operation

Bernardo (left) and Arthur Lima after the operation

Noor ul Owase Jeelani with Bernardo (left) and Arthur, and parents Adriely and Antonia Lima. Photo: Gemini Untwined

Noor ul Owase Jeelani with Bernardo (left) and Arthur, and parents Adriely and Antonia Lima. Photo: Gemini Untwined

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Bernardo (left) and Arthur Lima after the operation

Brazilian twins who were joined at the head have been successfully separated with the help of a British neurosurgeon.

Bernardo and Arthur Lima, who were born with fused brains, underwent several operations in Rio de Janeiro, with the direction of Great Ormond Street Hospital paediatric surgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani.

The three-year-olds had seven procedures, involving more than 27 hours of operating time in the final operation alone. It was one of the most complex separations ever completed, according to the charity which funded it and which Mr Jeelani founded – Gemini Untwined.

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Noor ul Owase Jeelani with Bernardo (left) and Arthur, and parents Adriely and Antonia Lima. Photo: Gemini Untwined

Noor ul Owase Jeelani with Bernardo (left) and Arthur, and parents Adriely and Antonia Lima. Photo: Gemini Untwined

Noor ul Owase Jeelani with Bernardo (left) and Arthur, and parents Adriely and Antonia Lima. Photo: Gemini Untwined

Surgeons in London and Rio spent months trialling techniques using virtual reality projections of the twins based on CT and MRI scans – something Mr Jeelani described as “space-age stuff”.

He said that, for the first time in the world, surgeons in separate countries wore headsets and operated in the same “virtual reality room” together.

“In some ways, these operations are considered the hardest of our time, and to do it in virtual reality was just really man-on-Mars stuff.”

He said, as with all conjoined twins after separation, the boys’ blood pressures and heart rates were “through the roof” – until they were reunited four days later and touched hands.

He said they were recovering well.

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