Conjoined twins separated in 18-hour surgery

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital successfully separated conjoined twins with a procedure that took 18 hours.

MEMPHIS - Le Bonheur Children's Hospital successfully separated conjoined twins with a procedure that took 18 hours.

The twins, Miracle and Testimony Ayeni, were born fused together at the lower half of their bodies.

"This is a rare condition," said Dr. Max Langham, surgical team leader. "This particular variation of conjoining occurs maybe in one of every 5 million births."

Langham went on to say it's even more uncommon in this type of conjoining that both twins are healthy. Langham said the twins shared a colon, their kidneys were hooked, and their pelvises were fused and open, causing their legs to splay out at 90 degree angles.

"I was so excited," the twins' mother Mary Ayeni said. "Those tears that you see back there, those are tears of joy, because if you see the way the twins are before, and you see them now, you would be grateful to God."

The twins' parents brought them to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital from Nigeria to have the surgery. Le Bonheur CEO Meri Armour said the entire surgical team donated their time pro-bono for the twins.

"We only ask one question--is it right for the kids? And if it's right for the kids, then we do it," Armour added.

Doctors said they hope for the best for the girls.

"We hope they'll be able to [walk and play and run]" orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Warner said.

Surgeons had to separate the girls' skin, legs, and organs, and they did it all for free after being contacted by Linking Hands Foundation--a Nigerian program focused on helping children in medical need.

" Mary and Samuel's faith has impressed me everyday of this whole journey," Dr. Emilee Dobish said. "And I think it's impressed the entire team, like all of the surgeons. We all drew strength from their faith to help carry us through this process." 

The twins' mother said they are healing miraculously.

"They are doing great," Mary Ayeni said. "If you see them, you won't even think they had surgery last week."

Doctors said the process took a lot of faith and prayer, and the twins' parents led the way. Their pastor guided them through the process they never lost hope that their daughters would be OK. 

"To get to that point, they needed a few things," Langham said. "They needed a great surgical team, which we have here, a supportive hospital, which we have lead by Meri Armour, and faith--and they had abundance of faith."

Dr. Langham added that teamwork played a huge role in the success.

"The complexity here is obvious, but the teamwork here is spectacular," he said.

Armour said she is proud of the care that patients at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital receive.

"It does matter where children get taken care of, and I'm proud to say that at Le Bonheur, every child really does matter here."

Miracle and Testimony separated their first birthday Wednesday, and their family has a lot to celebrate.

"I was amazed, because I don't really believe the legs are coming back together," Mary Ayeni said. "But when I say the legs and everything.. I was like, God, you are faithful."

The family gave up their job, left the country, and put their faith in God and the doctors at LeBonheur.

"If God can give miracle, testimony will back it up. So these kids, they are Miracle and Testimony," Mary Ayeni said.

This story originally appeared on WMC Action News 5's website.


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