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Conjoined Twins Successfully Separated in 16-Hour Surgery

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Twin boys born with their heads conjoined have been successfully separated following complex surgery that took nearly 16.5 hours.

Jadon and Anias McDonald, who are 13-months-old, underwent craniopagus surgery at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, CNN reports. The rare operation carries major risks, including death or longterm brain damage.

The surgery—only the 59th of its kind since 1952—was led by Dr. James Goodrich, who established the practice of performing separations in several short stages rather than in one operation lasting over two days. Following the operation, he told the boys’ family “Well, we did it.”

On Facebook, the boys’ mother, Nicole McDonald, wrote that Dr. Goodrich said the case was the hardest he’d encountered. “We are definitely not out of the woods by any means,” she said. “There was a point where Dr Goodrich debated stopping the whole procedure because it was just too risky, but an opening presented itself and they went for it and it ended up being the right call.”

In the post, McDonald also shared how she felt about the future.

“It’s a bit surreal to sit here and type this,” she added. “I should feel so happy…TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!!…and yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future. I didn’t cry until the surgeon’s left the room. I was barely able to even utter the words ‘thank you’ because of the pit that still sits heavy in my stomach.”


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Write to Kate Samuelson at kate.samuelson@time.com