A team of 18 surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital have successfully separated Bhutanese twins Nima and Dawa after a six-hour surgery.
The twins went into surgery at 8.30am on Friday and the hospital’s head of paediatric surgery, Dr Joe Crameri, confirmed the procedure finished at 2.30pm.
The Royal Children’s Hospital provided an update on the twins on Saturday afternoon at 4pm: “Twins Nima and Dawa are both in a stable condition, and recovering on a ward”.
The mother of the 15-month old girls decided to wait and pray at a Buddhist temple until the life-saving surgery was over.
Dr Crameri initially told reporters on Friday morning the surgery could go into Friday evening.
“We keep making guesses as to how long this will take, but the reality is until the operation starts and ultimately we get to see what is connecting the girls, we won’t really know how long,” Dr Crameri told reporters on Friday morning.
Dr Crameri was hopeful the surgery will be straightforward but expected some challenges to arise.
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Dr Crameri said until they were operated on, it remained unclear exactly where the twins were joined.
“I feel quietly confident that we are going to find something we can deal with in a very straight forward manner, that’s what I’m hoping,” he said.
“But there are challenges with these types of operations and I think we’ve got the team around us to deal with those.”
Among Dr Crameri’s concerns was the possibility the sisters shared a bowel.
“We know the bowel is mixed and it could be entirely separate and sitting next to one another or it also can be that the girls share the bowel and we have to find a way of dividing that,” he said.
“The one benefit we all have is we are all born with a lot of bowel and you can afford to decrease that.”
He said earlier he was also unsure how the twins would react to receiving anaesthesia.
“One of the complexities is that you really don’t know what you do to one twin, how it affects the other,” Dr Crameri added.
Children First Foundation’s Elizabeth Lodge, the chief executive of the country retreat where the family have been staying, said the twin’s mother Bhumchu Zangmo was feeling hopeful but “a little bit scared” about the medical procedure.
She will be praying and meditating while her children are under the knife.
“She just wants that quietness and finds it peaceful,” Ms Lodge told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“She still has this extraordinary calmness about her, which is just amazing.”
The operation had previously been postponed after last-minute checks revealed the sisters were not ready.
The sisters were brought to Australia with their mother Bhumchu Zangmo in October.