Conjoined twin brothers undergo separation surgery

A complicated 16-hour operation to separate 13-month-old twin brothers, who were born conjoined at the head, has taken place in New York.

Anias and Jadon McDonald, who were born connected by the tops of their heads, had the operation at the Montefiore Medical Center on Thursday.

Their mother Nicole McDonald, has shared her family's journey and the boys' progress so far in a Facebook post she posted early today (Friday): "The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks.

"I am told that in about 3 hours they will be wheeled back to their room, intubated and sedated. The plan is to keep them both intubated for about a week...to get through the swelling and pain of the first week...and then go from there."

Dr James Goodrich, who has performed seven separation surgeries for other conjoined children, performed the operation used 3D models to prepare for it.

Conjoined twins: some key facts

  • Conjoined twins are extremely rare - it's estimated that they occur in a range from one in 49,000 births to one in 189,000 births, with a higher incidence in Southeast Asia, Africa and Brazil.
  • They are typically classified according to the parts of the body where they are joined together and these twins sometimes share organs, or other parts of their bodies.
  • The medical term for cases like the McDonald twins, where twins are joined at the head, is known as craniopagus. In such cases, twins share a portion of their skull. Their brains are usually separate, though they may share some brain tissue.
  • Many conjoined twins are stillborn or die shortly after birth and not all surviving conjoined twins are considered candidates for separation surgery.