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Conjoined twins successfully separated after hours-long surgery

Cranially conjoined three-year-old twins Bernardo and Arthur Lima have undergone a 33-hour-long operation consisting of several surgeries that led to their successful separation.

Carried out in Rio de Janeiro under the direction of UK-based paediatric surgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, the operation was carried out on Sunday. Sky News was the first to report about it on Monday.

The 33-hours-long series of two surgeries involving 100 medical staff was preceded by a total of seven operations and months of trialling virtual reality techniques.

Mr Jeelani was assisted in the “remarkable achievement”, as he described the operation, by Dr Gabriel Mufarrej, head of paediatric surgery at Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer.

“The successful separation of Bernardo and Arthur is a remarkable achievement by the team in Rio and a fantastic example of why the work of Gemini Untwined is so valuable,” he said, stressing that the charity, Gemini Untwined, relied on public donations to keep its work going.

Not only have we provided a new future for the boys and their family, we have equipped the local team with the capabilities and confidence to undertake such complex work successfully again in the future. It is through this process of teamwork and knowledge-sharing globally that we can hope to improve the outcome for all children and families that find themselves in this difficult position,” he said.

“This is only possible through generous donations from members of the public,” the doctor stressed.

A life changer

Dr Gabriel Mufarrej, the assistant surgeon, said the hospital where he worked had been caring for the boys for two and a half years. “Life-changing” is how he described the surgery’s influence on the fate of the boys and their family.

“Since the parents of the boys came from their home in the Roraima region to Rio to seek our help two and a half years ago, they had become part of our family here in the hospital. We are delighted that the surgery went so well and the boys and their family have had such a life-changing outcome,” he said.

Allowing Bernardo and Arthur to literally go their ways was one of the most complex separation processes ever completed. Numbers of surgeons doubted it would be possible, according to Gemini Untwined.

Given their age, the twins are the oldest craniopagus twins with a fused brain to have been separated.

As reported by Sky News, both twins have been recovering well in hospital. Now a six-month rehabilitation will follow to help them join their peers in all the joys of life to come.

According to Gemini figures, one in 60,000 births results in conjoined twins, and only 5 percent of these are craniopagus children.

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