On their own at last

Associated Press

SEATTLE – It took 30 hours of surgery, but doctors on Sunday separated seven-month-old twins joined from the bottom of the breastbone to the hip.

Charity and Kathleen Lincoln of Olympia became separate beings about 6:30 a.m. They remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, said spokeswoman Georgia Taylor.

The procedure began at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Charity was out of surgery about 1 p.m. Sunday, followed an hour and a half later by Kathleen.

“It went extraordinarily well,” Dr. Richard Molteni, medical director at the hospital. “They’re very stable and look well.”

Molteni estimated the girls had about an 85 percent chance of survival in the first month after surgery. Their prospects were expected to improve after that.

When joined, the Lincoln twins shared one of three legs. It was removed, along with the hip from each girl. Reconstructive surgery, using bone from that shared leg, replaced about one-third of the pelvis on each girl.

“It may be possible that someday they may be able to walk with crutches and use a wheelchair part of the time,” Taylor said.

The twins had also shared part of the large intestine and anus. Other organs, including their livers and urinary bladders, were also fused, though each had a complete reproductive system.

Charity and Kathleen are the children of accountant Greg Lincoln and his wife, Vaneice, who were at the hospital Sunday. They have three other children – two daughters ages 3 and 9 and a 6-year-old son.

Conjoined twins occur once in every 200,000 live births, but about 75 percent are stillborn or die within days. The phenomenon is three times more likely to occur in girls.

This is the third time the separation surgery has been performed at Children’s, Taylor said. The other two surgeries occurred since 1994, but additional details were unavailable.

Pediatric surgeon John Waldhausen directed the operation, which involved more than two dozen people – at least nine more doctors and as many as 20 other operating-room personnel.

The twins will need more surgeries in the future to reconstruct and repair portions of their bodies damaged by the surgery. The operation was performed while the girls were young to allow normal growth to begin as soon as possible, Molteni said.

They were expected to remain at Children’s for about a month.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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