Thirteen month old twins Anias and Jadon McDonald were successfully separated during a grueling twenty-hour surgery, starting on Oct. 13 and ending on Oct. 14. The twins were born on September 9, 2015 in Chicago, Ill., but their family moved to the Bronx in New York City, once the twins were stable in order to be closer to the hospital in which the separation surgery would be occurring. This surgery was only the fifty-ninth craniopagus separation surgery, or separation of twins conjoined at the head, since 1952.
Nicole and Christian McDonald, the twins’ parents, say that the main thing they look forward to is the boys finally being able to see each other. ‘I just cannot wait to see them look at each other with their big brown eyes.’ The twins’ parents are staying as positive as they can, due to the very high risks that run with these surgeries. They were forced to make the decision whether or not to operate, because when conjoined twins are not separated they are very unlikely to live past the age of two.
The twins’ surgeon was Dr. James T. Goodrich, the head of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Department at the Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx. The McDonald twins were Dr. Goodrich’s seventh and longest separation surgery and his first craniopagus surgery since 2004 at the Montefiore Medical Center. Despite this being Goodrich’s first surgery of this kind in twelve years in the Bronx, he has operated on conjoined twins around the world, including five others this year.
The doctors were able to use many forms of technology to learn what they did or did not have to do on the operating table. Some of the technologies they used included 3-D and lifelike models, and many diagrams of their brains to act as the “blueprint” for the surgery. These resources were able to help lead the over forty surgeons and nurses that worked to separate Anias and Jadon McDonald.
The twins were taken to the operating room around ten a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13. At around 7:45 the next morning, Jadon was brought to his room on the tenth floor of the hospital, where his parents were waiting to see him wheeled in on his own bed. Anias needed more work to reconstruct his skull and did not return to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for another five hours, at 1:00 p.m.
The first seventy-two hours after a separation surgery of any kind, craniopagus or not, are the most important due to the high risks of complications. Over the weekend, Anias suffered from a few seizures, including one that lasted around forty five minutes, but since has been stabilized with anti-seizure medicine. As of Monday night, Jadon still had not moved his left side but since has started to regain his mobility.
The McDonalds were able to afford this surgery, and their move to The Bronx, using the funds that people from all over the world raised and are now asking anyone who would like to help them financially to donate to a family friend’s son, who is in need of a kidney transplant.