Delight at successful separation of Formosa twins
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Conjoined twins are rare, with an estimated incidence of between 1:50,000 â€“ 1:200,000 births. The twins are always identical and the phenomenon is found more frequently in girls and in African and Asian ethnic groups. There are two predominant theories as to why conjoined twins occur. Either that the originating fertilised egg splits incompletely, or that one fertilised egg splits completely, but that the stem cells from one twin attract the same stem cells of the other twin, leading to conjoinment.
Early diagnosis of conjoined twins is extremely important, so that the parents and doctors are as prepared as possible for what may follow. Modern scanning techniques and medical advances mean that this is now much more likely, particularly in the developed world. However, it is still often difficult for doctors to ascertain the exact extent of the babies' conjoinment until they are born, and Mr and Mrs Formosa advise that this was the case in respect of Rosie and Ruby.
Conjoined twins who share a heart, brain or other major organ have a much lower chance of survival until birth or shortly thereafter, than those who share less critical parts of their bodies. Thankfully in Rosie and Ruby's case, although they were joined at the umbilicus, they did both have their own intestines. Nevertheless, the surgery to separate them will have been extremely complex and it is reported that more than 20 medical staff were involved during the operation to separate the two tiny baby girls, who would not have been able to survive without this life-saving surgery.
My congratulations go to the Formosa family and to the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital who successfully completed this amazing operation.
Clinical Negligence Team
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