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Groundbreaking surgery

Doctor gives details of conjoined twins separation

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The head of paediatric surgery at Bern’s Inselspital explains how his team separated eight-day-old conjoined sisters, believed to be the youngest babies to be successfully parted. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) 

The operation reportedly carried a 1% chance of success.

The twins, named Lydia and Maya, were born eight weeks premature at the Inselspital hospital in Bern in December, along with a triplet who was fully separate and healthy. The twins were joined at the liver, pericardium (heart sac) and rib cage.

A 13-strong medical team took five hours to separate the girls on 10 December. The team included staff from the University Hospital of Geneva. Lydia and Maya later underwent further surgery to close their abdominal walls and are now recovering in a paediatric intensive care ward. In Switzerland, only two sets of twins born conjoined have survived separation in the past 30 years.

The head of paediatric surgery, Steffen Berger, told Swiss public television, SRF, that surgeons normally wait for three to six months before attempting a separation, but the operation was brought forward as the twins’ lives were in danger.