British docs separate twins joined at the head

Sudanese twins who were born with the tops of their heads fused together have been separated successfully by a team of doctors after four complex operations

Sudanese twins born with the tops of their heads joined are doing well after being separated in a rare and risky series of operations in a London hospital.

Facing the World, a charity which helps disfigured children, says 11-month-olds Rital and Ritag Gaboura underwent a successful four-stage operation over four months.

Little miracles: 11-month-olds Rital and Ritag Gaboura underwent four
surgeries after which doctors were finally able to separate them giving
them a chance to see each other face-to-face for the first time. pic/afp

Twins joined at the head are known as craniopagus and occur in about one in 2.5 million births. Separating them can be dangerous, especially if -- as in this case -- there's significant blood flow between their brains.

"It's extremely high-risk," said Dr James Goodrich, who coordinated a similar separation in New York in 2004.

The charity says the separation took place in stages from May to August at London's Great Ormond Street

"Incidences of surviving twins with this condition are extremely rare," lead surgeon David Dunaway said. "The task presented innumerable challenges and we were all very aware of our responsibility to the family and these two little girls."

Even successful operations can leave neurological damage, although that does not appear to be the case with Rital and Ritag, who were separated in August.

"Within days the twins were back on the general ward interacting and playing as before," the charity said. Sarah Driver-Jowitt, executive co-ordinator,  predicted the girls' parents may soon return home "with two healthy, separate girls".

"So far the results have been exceptional," Dr Goodrich said. "I think both kids will do quite well."

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