Conjoined twins make eye contact for first time after 12-hour separation surgery

Conjoined twins who were born facing away from each other have made eye contact for the first time after surgeons separated them in a 12-hour surgery.

The one-year-old girls were separated at Soroka University Medical Center in Be'er Sheva – the same Israel hospital where they were born last August – helped by experts from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The twins, who were fused together by the back of their heads, are healthy after the procedure that experts say has only been undertaken about 20 times worldwide before, the Mirror reported.

According to Sky News, the procedure involved cranial reconstruction and scalp grafts and followed months of planning – including by creating a simulation of a 3D virtual reality model of the twins.

Eldad Silberstein, the head of the hospital's plastic surgery department, told Israel's Channel 12 news: "They are recovering nicely. They are breathing and eating on their own."

Dr Owase Jeelani, a paediatric neurosurgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, added: "It has gone extremely well, I'm delighted how well the whole team has done, it's an excellent team here and it's been a real pleasure to be a part of it."

According to the Jerusalem Post, the procedure called on a team of 50 experts, who were all present at the hospital on the day of the operation.

They first planned how the op would be carried out using 3D imaging and virtual reality technology.

They modelled how they would separate the blood vessels, meninges, skull bones and skin of the conjoined twins.

Then, in the months before the surgery, medics fitted the babies with skin and tissue extenders to create the excess skin needed to close their scalps after the separation.

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During the complex operation, surgeons had to separate and close blood vessels, then split and reconstruct the girls' skull bones.

After successfully separating the twins' skulls, they closed their skin.

According to research published by the University of California’s UC Davis Health last year, only about one in every 2.5million births result in 'craniopagus' conjoined twins.

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