15-Month-Old Previously Conjoined Twins Are Thriving, Months After Separation Surgery

Erin and Abby Delaney, who were once connected at the head, are doing well, months after their separation surgery in Pennsylvania.

The twins, who are now 15-months old, were separated in June in an 11-hour surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) that was carried out by 30 individuals. The girls are now crawling and even practicing rolling over as they go through the recovery phase of their treatment.

“Although this has been a long journey, with many ups and downs, [my husband] Riley and I are thrilled to see how well the girls are doing today,” said Heather Delaney, the twins’ mother. “We are so grateful for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia team, and for the support and encouragement that our families, our friends and the community have given us during this long journey.”

Heather and Riley Delaney were told during a prenatal ultrasound that the twins were expected to be conjoined at the top of their heads, which is called craniopagus conjoined twins. It is the least common type.

The Delaneys were referred to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP for prenatal care and delivery. Abby and Erin were born by C-section on July 24, 2016, in CHOP’s SDU, a unique unit exclusively for mothers carrying fetuses with known birth defects. The girls were 10 weeks premature. Each weighed two pounds and one ounce.

In October 2016, doctors operated on the twins to cut through the bone where the skulls were joined, and to place a device that would be used to gradually push the two apart. Over the next five months, the girls had several more surgeries as steps toward separation, including the placement of tissue expanders below the skin where their heads were joined.

Those steps led to a successful surgery.

“The ability to plan and carry out this type of surgery is testament to the skill and expertise available here at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, CHOP’s Surgeon-in-Chief. “I’m extremely proud of Dr. Heuer, Dr. Taylor and the entire CHOP team, and I’m thrilled that Erin and Abby have a promising future because their courageous parents entrusted their daughters to our care.”

On July 24, they celebrated their first birthday, receiving more than 300 cards from around the world.

“The girls are inspiring,” said Heather Delaney. “As their parents, it is very neat for Riley and me to have a front row seat to this and watch them overcome these incredible obstacles. We cannot wait to see what their future holds!”

Over the next few years, the twins will need additional plastic and reconstructive surgery. For now, after spending more than a year at CHOP, their parents are preparing to take them home to North Carolina sometime later this year.

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