South Texas’ formerly conjoined twins are running, laughing, doing well
CORPUS CHRISTI – South Texas’ formerly conjoined twins are doing well, five years after their groundbreaking separation surgery at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
That surgery, on April 12, 2016, was the separation surgery of conjoined twins in a triplet birth, which has the odds of happening one in 50 million births.
No one at Driscoll Children’s Hospital had ever attempted such a complicated procedure. After many months of intense preparation, fourteen physicians (led by Pediatric Surgeon Haroon Patel, MD) and a staff of medical professionals were ready to do whatever had to be done to offer the hope of a normal life to the conjoined twins.
In 2021, it is a totally different story. At a recent routine check-up at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center-Harlingen, Scarlett and Ximena Torres of Brownsville are charming everyone in sight, laughing as they do. Like whirling dervishes, Scarlett and Ximena are here, there – and everywhere. Running, rather than being conjoined. Moving. Constantly.
“Don’t they look good?” said Dr. Patel, as they skedaddled here and there around the clinic. “They know their way around here.”
“How is school? Do you like school?” Dr. Patel asked. The girls, who have been joined by triplet Catalina Torres and younger sister Lucia Ambriz , are running around as if they ran the clinic. In a sense, they do.
“They’ve got free rein here,” said Dr. Patel. “They are part of the family.”
Things weren’t always so simple.
Teamwork – between physicians, nurses and other Driscoll Children’s Hospital staff members – made all the difference in the care of formerly conjoined twins Scarlett and Ximena and their identical sister Catalina, who was born without serious health problems. Forty-five medical professionals were directly involved in their care.
Driscoll’s involvement began early, before the triplets were born, with Driscoll Children’s Hospital Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists closely monitoring the mother’s progress. Seventy minutes after their birth May 16, 2015, at Corpus Christi Medical Center-Bay Area, the babies were transported to Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where Scarlett and Ximena remained until their surgery date: April 12, 2016. The conjoined twins were fused below the waist and shared a colon and bladders.
The separation surgery began at 8:37 a.m. and ended at 8:47 p.m., and was Driscoll’s first operation on conjoined twins. Several specialties participated, including pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, orthopaedics and anesthesia.
Prior to the separation surgery, the surgical team coordinated with a variety of physicians, therapists and specialists in other disciplines to care for the girls’ nutrition, recovery preparation and family needs. Scarlett and Ximena were released from Driscoll Children’s Hospital on May 18, 2016, and returned to the Rio Grande Valley.
“We let the parents know from the start that this was going to be a lifelong relationship. It wasn’t going to be a one-and-done surgery. The girls are going to have ongoing medical needs,” said Dr. Patel.
Most likely, the formerly conjoined twins will face such upcoming challenges as they have everything else in their young lives: with a smile on their faces.