Adeline Faith Mata, once conjoined to her twin Knatalye Hope Mata, has been released from the hospital almost exactly one month after her sister was cleared to go home.
A team of surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston performed a highly complicated, high-stakes separation surgery on the conjoined Mata twins in February. After the surgery, both girls spent months recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Doctors cleared Knatalye for release on May 8, just in time for Mother’s Day, but Adeline had remained in the pediatric intensive care unit until doctors decided on Tuesday she was well enough to go home.
Watch the girls' story on "Nightline" tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET
ABC News' “Nightline” has followed the twins’ journey, from their parents making the difficult decision to go through with the separation surgery to the twins’ recovery and hospital release. The full story of the twins and their journey will be featured in a one-hour special, produced by Lincoln Square Productions, airing on Discovery Life Channel later this summer.
The fact that Knatalye and Adeline are doing so well is remarkable. Roughly 1 in 200,000 twins are born conjoined each year. As many as 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn. About 35 percent only survive one day. Conjoined twins who live beyond a day have a 5 to 25 percent chance of survival. On top of that, each separation surgery is different and presents its own challenges and potential complications, which could also lead to death.
When the twins’ mother Elysse Mata found out they were conjoined, she said doctors talked to her about terminating the pregnancy, but for her, that was never an option.
“I told [the doctor], ‘I don't care what the case is, I'm going to go as long as I can, and if God decides that he needs them more, then so be it,’” she told “Nightline” in February.
On April 11, 2014, the two sisters beat the odds and were born alive, nine weeks premature, at Texas Children’s Hospital. Elysse and her husband Eric Mata decided to give them meaningful middle names: Hope and Faith.
At birth, the girls shared a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lining of the heart and pelvis. But there was hope once doctors learned they each had their own hearts, beating separately.
After they were born, the babies had to stay in the intensive care unit until doctors could perform the separation surgery, so Eric, Elysse and their 5-year-old son, Azariah, uprooted their lives in Lubbock, Texas, to live near the Houston hospital. Eric commuted eight hours each way for work from Lubbock to Houston to see his family.
When the twin girls were 10 months old, doctors determined they had a good chance of surviving the separation surgery, so a team, led by Dr. Darrell Cass, began to prepare.
Doctors spent months creating 3-D models of the babies’ organs and practiced on mannequins. Despite all the preparation, there was still a chance the girls would die in surgery.
On Feb. 17, 2015, and into Feb. 18, a team of 12 surgeons performed a 26-hour separation surgery on the girls, while Elysse, her husband and family members camped out in the waiting room.
The Mata twins both survived the surgery and have spent the past few months recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital. Since the separation, both have each had a few more surgeries. Doctors decided that Knatalye was strong enough to be released first, while her sister Adeline remained in intensive care until Tuesday.
The girls will continue to need around-the-clock care and Adeline is still on a ventilator. Their mother Elyssa said she wants to go back to school to become a nurse.