Formerly conjoined twins, Amelia and Allison Tucker, are doing well after a surgery separated them in November, according to TODAY.
The baby girls were born sharing not only a birthday, but their diaphragm, pericardium and liver, and their chest wall as well.
“Both Allison and Amelia are doing well, and we expect them both to enjoy full, healthy and independent lives,” said Dr. Holly L. Hedrick, the pediatric general, thoracic and fetal surgeon.
Hedrick was in charge of the 40-member multidisciplinary team that separated Amelia and Allison last month. This was the 21st time that The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has separated conjoined twins.
“The separation was successful because of the bravery of the family and the team,” Hedrick said.
“I’m convinced that Allison, the smaller twin, is the tougher one. She was the first to have her drainage tube removed and first to be discharged. Amelia also tough but a little more laid back. She’s the larger twin but she’s had a more challenging recovery. But she’s improving every day.”
Amelia is still in the hospital, while Allison is at home. Their mother, Shellie Tucker, said that they love being held and being together.
“Once they are held they are happy. When they get together they are totally different babies. You can tell they are happy and relieved to be with their sister,” Shellie said.
Shellie agreed with Hedrick’s opinion about her daughters’ personalities:
“Allison is the feisty one, like her brother… kind of loud. Amelia is laid back, very serious. But once she relaxes she welcomes you with smiles every time.”
The girls didn’t share many internal organs, so their prognosis is good, said Dr. Joseph Losee, chief of pediatric surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Closing the incisions can be hard because extra skin and other tissues are needed to replace what was previously shared by the twins.
Losee said that surgeons have come up with two ways to get around that problem.
“One is by tissue expansion, where you put a little water balloon under the skin and keep adding water so that you slowly stretch out the skin and muscle,” said the chief of pediatric surgery. “The other way is to put a catheter inside the abdomen and inject air. Then the skin and muscle stretch as they do in pregnancy.”
Shellie found out that the girls were conjoined 20 weeks into her pregnancy. She went to a specialist who recommended that she have an abortion.
“We chose to get a second opinion,” said Shellie. “Both of us have a lot of faith and in that situation I think you have to have it… we relied on that. No matter the outcome, we decided we were going to make it through.”
“Greg and I are thrilled that our daughters have been given this remarkable gift by the amazing team from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said the happy mother of the twins. “We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that the medical team, our families and our friends have given us during this long journey.”
Shellie wrote on her blog that tracked Amelia and Allison’s progress on November 7, after the seven hour surgery:
“Today started off with fear, anxiousness, nervousness, and excitement. Greg and I went into this knowing some facts but not all. We trusted our surgeons and hoped for the best. We never could imagine the outcome being as great as it was.”