Separated twin girls doing well, doctor says

By GENE JOHNSON

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Their hearts are beating, their bladders are working and their parents are sleeping.

In short, everything is going well for 7-month-old twins Charity Mae and Kathleen Faith Lincoln of Olympia, who were conjoined from the breastbone to the hip until doctors separated them during a 31-hour weekend operation.

"Both girls had a very pleasant, quiet night," Dr. Richard Molteni, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center director, said Monday. "Mom and Dad actually got some sleep."

Molteni estimated the girls had about an 85 percent chance of survival in the first month after surgery and even better prospects after that.

"The surgery, I think, would be described as having gone spectacularly well," he said earlier. "Although we’ve classified both of them as critically ill, they look tremendous. There were no real surprises."

The girls were separated at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday and then required another seven hours of reconstructive surgery. Since then they’ve shown no significant complications, Molteni said. They are heavily drugged, but have been waking occasionally.

Doctors removed one of the three legs the girls shared as well as their joined hip. They also had to split a shared liver and a shared bladder.

Each has a complete reproductive system.

Bone from the extra leg was used to reconstruct the girls’ hips. The way their hips develop will determine to what degree they can sit and stand.

The twins also shared part of the large intestine. They will face additional intestinal surgery later.

Charity and Kathleen are on mechanical respirators, but their dependence on the machines is diminishing and doctors hope to have them breathing on their own within five days.

Any serious complications would likely develop within five days, Molteni said. The girls’ hearts are beating normally and they are maintaining their blood pressure without special medication, he said.

After the girls are taken off respirators, they will remain on intravenous fluids for another five days or so. Doctors expect them to stay in the hospital for about a month.

They are in separate cribs with overhead heaters, but share the same room apart from other infants.

Their parents, accountant Greg Lincoln and his wife, Vaneice, planned a news conference Tuesday with the surgeons who performed the operation. The Lincolns have three other children: 3- and 9-year-old daughters and a 6-year-old son.

The operation required a lot of prep work. Because the girls had no other medical problems — Molteni described them as delightful and outgoing — there was no rush to operate.

Doctors injected their veins with dye and used X-rays to determine where to cut.

They also inserted a type of balloon under their skin and slowly inflated it. The girls’ skin expanded as it was inflated, giving them extra skin that doctors then used to cover the surgical wounds.

The hospital will cover whatever costs insurance doesn’t, Molteni said. He didn’t offer any cost estimate.

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

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