LOS ANGELES -- Twins Regina and Renata Salinas Fierros were in side-by-side beds in intensive care yesterday after surgeons separated the babies, who had been attached from the chest to the pelvis for the first 10 months of their lives.
"Seeing the girls today respond," said Dr. James E. Stein, the pediatric surgeon leading the operation, "was a great excitement for us all."
Stein told reporters that the girls were stable throughout the operation that involved separating them and dividing their internal organs. Their prospects for recovery remained good, doctors said.
Surgeons at Children's Hospital Los Angeles cut the last thread of muscle and tissue connecting the girls at 6:21 p.m. Wednesday, more than three hours ahead of schedule in what had been expected to be a surgery lasting 24 hours. It began about 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Reconstruction surgery on the girls' chests, organs, pelvises and body walls continued until yesterday morning. Doctors said the fact the surgery was going faster than expected meant the girls' chances of infection were lessened.
Earlier, doctors had divided the twins' fused breastbones, livers and pelvises. They also gave the shared large intestine to Renata; a person can survive without that organ.
The condition, in which the twins were joined at the hip but each has two legs, occurs once in every 2.5 million births, according to Children's Hospital. Five conjoined-twin operations have been performed at the facility since 1966; in three cases both twins survived.
Stein said the girls' quality of life would have deteriorated without the surgery.