When conjoined twins Erin and Abby Delaney were born joined at the head, their parents feared that the girls’ lives would never be normal. However, with the help of the experienced and determined doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the girls were ultimately separated. See what they look like now.
Conjoined twins Erin and Abby Delaney were born connected at the skull, as seen above. Because of this, doctors felt that keeping them conjoined was not a viable option if they ever wanted to live lives that were even remotely normal or enjoyable. Although surgery came with its fair share of risks, that was the recommendation given to the girls’ parents.
“I think for me, being their mom, I look at them and I see two separate babies,” said Heather Delaney after giving birth to the conjoined twins. “Yes, they’re conjoined. But, to me, there’s times when one of them will be crying and the other one’s completely fast asleep and I have to remind myself, ‘You can’t just pick her up.’ I think it’s just because we’re their parents and we just see them for who they are and not what’s ‘wrong’ with them.”
The surgery to separate Erin and Abby would be the most complex operation ever performed at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Each girl would ultimately undergo a series of procedures and require her own surgical team. The surgeries included hours of practice and preparation designed to ensure that neither baby would bleed out on the operating table or suffer other complications.
“The girls are starting to want to see the world,” Heather said before the girls were separated. “So they want to look at what they’re hearing, they want to see people walking back and forth. So once they’re separated, for them to sit up and see everything and be able to look whichever way they want to look regardless of what their sister’s doing, I think will be amazing.”
Thankfully, all of the intense preparation and attention to detail by CHOP staff paid off. The surgery to separate Erin and Abby was a resounding success. Whereas once they were unable to sit up on their own or explore the world around them, they can now live the lives of normal toddlers, for the most part.
“They’re such happy, content little girls, for what they’ve gone through,” said Heather Delaney. “They’ve never lived outside of hospital walls. They’re not afraid of people. It’s amazing to see how brave they’ve been through all of it.”
The journey of these twins is not over yet — they are both still missing part of their skull, which will require additional surgery. However, the Delaney family has weathered the worst of the storm and can now rest much easier than in months past. Any procedures the girls will need to endure from this point forward will present far fewer risks than the initial operation to separate them.
Indeed, the resilience of children is inspiring and Erin and Abby’s story is truly one-of-a-kind. As their mother expressed, they went through more in their first year than most of us will experience in a lifetime. Please share their inspiring story if you wish them the best as they continue on their journey.