On June 6, 2017, surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully separated 10-month-old conjoined twins Erin and Abby. http://www.chop.edu/delaney-twins
Parents Heather and Riley Delaney, from North Carolina, first learned that Heather was carrying conjoined twins about 11 weeks into her pregnancy. Abby and Erin Delaney were born in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit on July 24, 2016, after being closely monitored by the Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment.
The Delaney twins were connected at the top of their heads, a condition called craniopagus, the least common type of conjoined twins. The girls were the 23rd pair of conjoined twins separated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the first craniopagus pair.
Surgery to separate conjoined twins involves many steps. Over their first 10 months, the girls underwent a series of surgeries, including the placement of expanders to stretch their skin.
The separation of conjoined twins is a very complex surgery followed by a long and complicated recovery. Co-led by neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer, MD, PhD, and plastic surgeon Jesse Taylor, MD, a multidisciplinary team of approximately 30 members, including physicians, nurses and other medical staff from neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and anesthesiology, participated in the separation surgery, which lasted about 11 hours.
After separation, formerly conjoined twins require intensive, expert care. As the separated infants recovered from their surgery, they were closely followed by their surgeons, nutritionists, developmental pediatricians, and other specialists to ensure that they receive the best clinical care to enable them to thrive and grow. They also received intensive therapy from a team of speech, occupational and physical therapists. Over the next few years, the girls will require additional surgeries to replace missing bone in their skulls and to minimize scarring.