Conjoined Twins are Successfully Separated in Dallas

PHOTO: Emmett and Owen Ezell
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Two conjoined infants have successfully been separated through an operation last Saturday, Dallas hospital officials confirmed.

Owen and Emmett Ezell were born conjoined from their breastbone to their hip bone. Before the surgery they shared a liver and an intestinal tract.

Five days after their surgery, the six-week-old infants are reported to be in stable condition at the Medical City Children's Hospital.

Dr. Clair Schwendeman, a neonatologist treating the twins, said he was "cautiously optimistic" for the twins' recovery.

"They're on some breathing support, but they've stabilized," said Schwendeman.

Schwendeman said incidents of conjoined twins are extremely rare and are estimated to occur at a rate of between one in 50,000 to one in 200,000 births. Depending on where the twins are conjoined, the survival rate for the infants is often extremely low.

Schwendeman said that the Ezell twins were estimated to have a 40 to 50 percent chance of survival.

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The twins' mother, Jenni Ezell, has been writing about her experiences on her blog.

Writing about the morning of the surgery, Ezell wrote that she and her husband, Dave Ezell, had a few moments alone with the twins before they were taken away to the operating room.

"I hope I never have to experience a moment like that again," Ezell wrote. "I didn't know if I would see my babies alive again, if I would see only one, or if I would see them after they had gone to be with their creator."

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During the twins' surgery, Dave and Jenni Ezell, who also have two older sons, waited for approximately nine hours in a private room waiting with family members to hear news of the twins. According to Jenni Ezell's blog, just before 4 p.m. the couple was told that the twins had been successfully separated.

"At this point, the room exploded into clapping and cheers, hugging and celebration," wrote Jenni Ezell. "My babies were two, and I rejoiced with streaming tears of joy and amazement!"

On a Facebook page dedicated to the twins, Dave Ezell said that after the infants were separated he was surprised that they had to "relearn" to do physiological things like process fluids and manage blood flow.

"It's a long road to recovery but the boys are well on their way," wrote Dave Ezell.

Schwendeman said Ezell twins would need future surgeries to fix IV lines and to add abdominal muscle. For now, the goal of the medical team is to keep the babies healthy, let them heal and learn how to tell them apart.

During the operation the nurses even painted the infants' fingernails so the surgeons could tell which baby was Owen and which was Emmett.

"They seem to have similar personalities," said Schwendeman. "The only way I can tell them apart is by their hair. Owen has less hair than Emmett does."

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