Anias and Jadon McDonald

Anias and Jadon McDonald

Successfully separated American conjoined twins
Country: USA

Content:
  1. Successfully Separated American Siamese Twins
  2. The Birth of Anias and Jadon McDonald
  3. The Challenging Operation

Successfully Separated American Siamese Twins

American Siamese twins, Anias and Jadon McDonald, who were joined at the head, have finally been separated after a 20-hour procedure that almost came to a halt. The 13-month-old twins are currently recovering in the hospital following the life-threatening operation. The lead surgeon, James Goodrich, said that what happened was simply incredible. Somewhere in the middle of the operation, the veteran neurosurgeon felt the need to pause the procedure when it became clear that they would need to separate much more brain tissue than expected. Despite using 3D imaging for preparation, the doctors couldn't avoid an unpleasant surprise. With each new incision, Anias' blood pressure and heart rate sharply dropped. Eventually, Dr. Goodrich found a way to continue the separation of the conjoined twins. While Jadon was sent to the recovery room at 7 a.m., Anias remained on the operating table. Anias was only returned to his family at 1 a.m. The doctors warned that he may face serious physical challenges. The twins' parents, Nicole and Christian, who live near Chicago, Illinois, waited in the waiting room until the operation was over. Nicole, 31, decided to share all the details on her Facebook page, where thousands of people continue to follow Anias and Jadon's story. "The overall atmosphere was a mixture of joy and uncertainty," Nicole explained. "It all feels a bit surreal as I sit and type this right now. I should be feeling happy... two separated babies!!! And yet, I worry about the future, which is still foggy."

Anias and Jadon McDonald

The Birth of Anias and Jadon McDonald

Anias and Jadon were born via caesarean section in September 2015. They were attached to each other at the crown of their heads. Nicole and 37-year-old Christian believed their babies were perfect in their original form. However, both parents knew that separation was the only chance for their children to have a normal life. The mother and father brought Anias and Jadon to a hospital in Bronx, New York, where one of the world's most respected surgeons could perform the rare operation of separating the twins' heads. The cost of the operation was $2.5 million. The boys were brought into the operating room at 7:15 a.m. "I almost backed out of it," Nicole told CNN before the surgery, admitting that she had gotten used to the fact that her children were conjoined. Nicole knew the significance of the procedure, but the thought of it not going well was agonizing for her. Anias and Jadon, who have a three-year-old brother named Azah, are medically known as craniopagus twins. This condition occurs approximately once in every 2.5 million births. Based on national statistics, it is astonishing that the babies survived to be 13 months old. About 40% of craniopagus twins are stillborn. Of the surviving third, a third die within the first 24 hours. If craniopagus twins make it past the first day, there is still an 80% risk of death before the age of two, which is usually when separation is considered. The separation procedure itself carries significant risks and can leave one or both twins with serious developmental complications. "We know the threat of complications is real," said Christian, "but that won't stop us from loving our boys."

Anias and Jadon McDonald

The Challenging Operation

The surgeon, James Goodrich, who performed the separation, specializes in cases involving conjoined twins joined at the head. Plastic surgeon Oren Tepper was also present in the operating room to reconstruct the children's skulls and suture each of their heads. The team of specialists spent months planning and developing their strategy, including using physical 3D models of the twins' heads and computerized 3D modeling to work through various scenarios. "Doing it in simulation is just as difficult as doing it in reality," said Dr. Goodrich to CNN. "I know that vascular system that we're working on is a complex thing. It's huge. It's doable but it's extremely tiring." However, despite incorporating all the technology, the doctors were not prepared for the fact that the shared brain tissue needing separation was 5x7 cm in size. Anias and Jadon spent 72 hours in the intensive care unit. They will spend several months recovering at a rehabilitation center. According to Dr. Goodrich, the twins' speech skills were not affected since the operation focused on the back of their brains. However, there is a chance that Anias and Jadon will face difficulties with movement. Dr. Goodrich said, "It's impossible to assess the situation right now because the twins have never crawled." The parents of the twins were able to cover a significant portion of the $2.5 million operation cost with their medical insurance. However, they still need to raise around $100,000. Anyone interested can make a donation on the twins' GoFundMe page.

Anias and Jadon McDonald

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