Conjoined twins from North Carolina who survived a surgical separation procedure despite a survival rate of just two percent have graduated from kindergarten.
Abby and Erin Delaney, 6, were born at 30 weeks in July 2016 with their heads fused together because of a one-in-a-million developmental defect that occurs when an early embryo is simply partially separated in the womb. Together they weighed only six kilograms.
In June 2017, the women underwent an advanced 11-hour process to separate the skulls at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Despite the low odds, the operation was a success.
The ladies are currently developmentally delayed, but their mom, Heather Delaney, said they are each thriving as they hit their seventh birthdays.
“When we saw them graduate, it was like a dream,” Ms Delaney, 33, recalled. “It’s one of those things that you think will never come.”
Abby and Erin Delaney were born at 30 weeks separated by a skull. They only had a two percent chance of survival
The ladies are now approaching their seventh birthday and are functioning efficiently despite the developmental delay
“We just know what they’re going to get, so the sky’s the limit for them.”
Conjoined twins on the head are commonly known as craniopagus conjoined twins. Doctors informed the Delaney household that the odds of having craniopagus twins were one in 2.5 million. In accordance with CHOPit is the least common type of conjoined twin, accounting for about two percent of cases.
About 70% of these children are female, and in the case of craniopagus twins, they are always genetically identical and sexually identical.
It’s not clear exactly what causes conjoined twins, but there are two theories. One is fission, in which the early embryo splits into two bulbs, but does not separate completely. These spheres then independently develop into conjoined twins.
The second principle is fusion, where an identical twin is conceived consists of two early spheres of twin embryos that fuse and meet at a random level.
About 40% of these twins are stillborn, and another 33% die shortly after birth, usually from organ failure and various abnormalities.
When she was just 11 weeks pregnant, Delaney discovered she was pregnant with conjoined twins. She was hospitalized at 27 weeks, but delivered naturally at 30 weeks.
“When we first found out we had a shock, we had no idea what to think,” she mentioned.
“It’s something you only see on TV, I thought it didn’t happen to people.”
Erin (left) and Abby (right) graduated from preschool this month, a milestone their mother and father never thought possible. “I’m so proud of them both,” their mum Heather Delaney, 33, said.
Abby and Erin were born on July 24, 2016 at 1:02 a.m. via C-section. They shared a skull, pores and skin, and the superior sagittal sinus, a vital vessel that carries blood from the mind.
Despite being aware of the 2% survival fee, the mother and father were informed that their ladies could be subjected to a separation surgical procedure after delivery. Because of the rarity of the woman’s situation, it may be CHOP’s first surgical procedure.
There were also dangers, from mild brain injury to death, and the twins underwent several minor surgical procedures to arrange their separation.
On June 6, 2017, Abby and Erin underwent an 11-hour separation surgery.
The mother and father said it was “tough,” especially with Abby, who had “lost 10 to 15 times her blood volume,” Delaney said.
“They replaced all the blood in her body several times when surgeons had to cut her sagittal sinus to separate her from Erin.
“The surgeons told us that they had never given so much blood to a patient before and that the patient had survived.”
It took 5 months for each child to be released from the hospital to return to their home in Statesville, North Carolina.
The surgical procedure lasted 11 hours and Abby especially had a touch and go experience. She misplaced “10 to 15 times the volume of blood,” Ms. Delaney said. “They replaced all the blood in her body several times when the surgeons had to cut her sagittal sinus to separate her from Erin. The surgeons basically told us that they had never given a patient that much blood before and that the patient had survived.
Both girls have some intellectual disabilities.
Approaching her seventh birthday, Ms Delaney said the little girls were currently about 15 months into their development.
They are both non-verbal, but Erin has been walking since she was five and now Abby is starting to walk too.
“If Abby can run, too, I’m in trouble—it’s hard enough to chase,” said Mrs. Delene.
Earlier this month, Abby and Erin graduated from kindergarten, a milestone their mother and father never dreamed of when the twins were infants.
Early on, Erin was awarded the ‘Dolphin Award’ for her ‘adventurous heart’ and love of discovery.
Abby received the “deer award” for being a “merciful friend who treats all people gently and kindly.”
“I’m so proud of both of them,” Ms. Delaney mentioned.
Although women do not keep their surgical procedure in mind, they see photos at home after the union. “One day we’re going to sit them down and have a good talk about it — we want them to be proud of who they are and where they come from,” Delaney said.