Twin boys conjoined at the head successfully out of surgery after 20 hour operation
10/31/2016 / By D. Samuelson / Comments
Twin boys conjoined at the head successfully out of surgery after 20 hour operation

As twins form inside the womb, an extraordinarily rare and difficult defect called Craniopagus twins can occur. It results in a fusion in the head and brain. This situation occurs in only one out of every 2.5 million live births. According to The Daily Mail, 40% of Craniopagus twins are stillborn. Within 24 hours of a live birth, 33% of these twins will die. If Craniopagus twins are not separated,  80% will die before the age of two. But Anais and Jadon McDonald, the Craniopagus twins of Nicole and Christian McDonald, did survive their C-section birth thirteen months ago, along with the myriad of the intensive medical testing and post birth procedures.

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These young toddlers, who have never walked or stood, have now survived a grueling 20 plus hour surgery to become separated, thanks to an extraordinary team of surgeons, nurses and specialists at Brooklyn’s Montefiore Hospital, led by neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich, who describes the procedure to be “as complicated as it gets.” According to, prior to this lengthy surgery, the twins endured three additional operations in order to expand the space between their heads.

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The neurosurgeons developed, built and practiced with 3D models of the boys heads, which not only included the twins facial likeness, it also contained representations of the complete vascular system they shared – or so the medical team thought. reports that once the  surgery was in progress, the twins  shared “four times more brain tissue than the high-tech imaging systems” had indicated. At one critical juncture, Dr. Goodrich nearly canceled the entire procedure. According to the twins mother, Nicole McDonald, here’s what happened after that difficult moment in the operating room:

” . . . an opening presented itself and they went for it. It ended up being the right call.”

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The boys shared 1.5 centimeters of brain tissue. Dr. McDonald, who has more experience at this than anyone in the world, hadn’t planned to remove that much and “made the final cut based on his instinct.” After the separation, other reconstructive surgeons set about rebuilding each young boy’s skull. Jadon was the first out of the surgery, and shortly after he was able to squeeze the finger of his father, Christian McDonald. Anais required more surgical attention; his results could be more severe. Only time will tell. He joined his brother a few hours later in his own hospital bed in ICU at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.



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