2011-9-29 21:51:40 Lucy
Formerly conjoined twins doing well
One year after a neurosurgeon separated them by cutting through a section of brain, Carl Aguirre says "Wow!" as he whizzes a toy truck off the tray of his high chair and his brother Clarence holds his nose to let his mother know his diaper is dirty.
After "starting their life over," the formerly conjoined 3-year-old Filipino boys have been amazingly free of significant complications, doctors say. Clarence is about to take his first steps and therapists say Carl will soon follow.
"When they emerged from the OR as separate boys, it was almost as if that was their second birth," said Dr. Robert Marion, the boys’ pediatrician. "Their motor skills are what you’d expect of a 1-year-old. They’re starting to walk. They’re playing appropriately in the way that a 1-year-old would. Their speech, also, is like that of a 1-year-old."
Until last Aug. 4, when they underwent the fourth in a series of major operations at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Carl and Clarence had been unable to sit up, stand straight or see each other’s face. Joined at the top of their heads, they were limited to lying on their backs, which stunted their development and subjected them to chronic pneumonia caused by inhaling food.
"They were going to die," Marion said. "And now seeing them with unlimited potential, it’s the most gratifying experience I’ve ever had in medicine."
The boys and their mother, Arlene, came to New York in 2003, when Montefiore agreed to take the boys’ case for free — it has cost more than $3 million so far — and the Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla agreed to donate housing and therapy.
The Children’s Hospital team of neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich and plastic surgeon Dr. David Staffenberg separated the boys in a gradual "staged" approach, pushing apart their brains and dividing the blood vessels in four operations