A set of twin brothers who were born with conjoined skulls were successfully separated this week when Brazilian and UK doctors used virtual reality techniques to work together from almost 6,000 miles apart to perform the complex surgery.
Arthur and Bernardo Lima were separated after being born craniopagus, which means they were conjoined at the top of the skull and shared vital veins and parts of the brain.
The three-year old twins were brought to Rio de Janeiro from their home in Roraima to undergo the highly complicated surgery that would allow the twins to see each others’ faces for the very first time, as they were conjoined facing opposite directions.
The procedure to fully separate the twins was a long process that spanned over several surgeries. Over 100 medical staff worked for more than 27 hours over seven surgeries they had rehearsed repeatedly using models of the twins’ brains and craniums.
“The separation was the most challenging to date,” Gemini Untwined said in a statement Monday. “At almost four years old, Arthur and Bernardo were also the oldest craniopagus twins with a fused brain to be separated, bringing added complications.” The statement added that the optimal age for separation is between 6 and 12 months of age.
“In some ways these operations are considered the hardest of our time, and to do it in virtual reality was just really man-on-Mars stuff,” said Noor ul Owase Jeelani, the founder of Gemini Untwined. Jeelani said he was “absolutely shattered” after the long series of surgeries, but expressed his delight that the procedure had been successful. Jeelani recalled the family of the boys being “over the moon” upon learning the surgery had been a success.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTON POST
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