- Two-year-old conjoined sisters, Safa and Marwa Ullah, underwent a gruelling separation operation
- The operation was a success and the girls are on the road to recovery
- In total the twins spent over 50 hours in surgery
Two-year-old sisters Safa and Marwa Ullah, from Charsadda, Pakistan have undergone successful major operations to separate their heads at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), London.
On Monday, July 15, the hospital announced that the twins had been successfully separated after more than 50 hours in surgery since October 2018.
Briefly.co.za learnt that the operation was conducted by a team of 100 specialists, with the final operation having been completed in February 11, The Guardian reported.
The girls were, however, not released until July 1, when medics at the health facility declared they were well enough to leave the hospital.
“I would be optimistic that by their third birthday they should be walking,” said one of the doctors who performed the operation.
The team used a virtual-reality replica of the girls’ skulls to understand the relationships between their brains and blood vessels and come up with the best strategy to separate them.
They also created 3D models to practice the surgery and develop cutting guides.
In multiple operations, surgeons then separated the brains and the blood vessels intertwined in the girls’ conjoined skulls.
They inserted a piece of plastic between the two brains to complete the separation internally.
The final major operation involved medics building new skulls using the girls’ own bone and tissue expanders to ensure each of the twins' skin would stretch over the top of their head.
During further surgery, the girls started to bleed after clots formed in Safa’s neck veins and she began to shunt blood to her twin, Marwa.
Concerned they might loose Marwa after her heart-rate fell, doctors gave her a key vein that the twins shared but this had an impact on Safa, who suffered a stroke less than 12 hours later.
The hospital then worked with physiotherapists and dietitians, among others, to help the girls recover and prepare for their lives in individual bodies.
According to the report, the surgery, which was paid for by a private donor, was followed by several smaller procedures adding up to more than 50 hours of surgery time.
“We are indebted to the hospital and to the staff and we would like to thank them for everything they have done. We are extremely excited about the future," said the girls’ mother, Zainab Bibi.
The girls, whose father died of a heart attack while their mother was pregnant with them, were moved to a London address with their mother, their grandfather and an uncle.
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