Separation surgery a success for twins

Associated Press

LACEY — Two months after a complex surgery separated them, two formerly conjoined twins are doing well, their parents say.

Charity and Kathleen Lincoln are adjusting to life apart. Their parents, Greg and Vaneice Lincoln, are tired but optimistic.

After a 31-hour operation that ended Oct. 1, each of the now 9-month-old girls has one leg. Eventually, they will learn to move around using a combination of crutches and wheelchairs and may use artificial limbs.

"We try not to get too far ahead," said the girls’ mother. "We’re taking one day at a time."

The twins were born by Caesarean section on Feb. 21 and had a combined weight of 13 pounds, 3 ounces. They shared three legs, a large intestine and an anus. Their livers and bladders were fused but each had a complete reproductive system.

During the operation to separate them the third leg was removed, along with a hip from each girl. Reconstructive surgery, using bone from that shared leg, replaced about a third of each girl’s pelvis. Each baby was also given a tube for solid waste, and doctors plan to reconstruct the ends of their digestive tracts in follow-up surgeries.

The Lincolns spend one day a week taking the twins to doctors in Seattle. Physical and occupational therapists spend six hours a week at their home.

"Those girls are doing very well, Charity in particular," said Dr. John Waldhausen, the surgeon in charge of the twins’ separation. "Kathleen — we still have to work on eating and weight gain."

When the two were joined, Charity was smaller but better at eating. She now eats normally, while Kathleen still uses a feeding tube and is fed a special formula that’s easier to digest. Charity drinks a high-calorie formula to help her gain weight.

At their last appointment, Charity weighed 16 pounds, 4 ounces and Kathleen weighed 16 pounds, 10 ounces.

The twins have started experimenting with finger foods.

"They like Cheerios, Kathleen especially," Vaneice Lincoln said. "She likes to do whatever she can for herself."

The Lincolns said they and their three other children — 9-year-old Mikayla, 6-year-old Troy and 3 1/2-year-old Annelise — have survived the media attention the twins’ case has drawn.

The Lincolns shied away from attention being put on Charity and Kathleen at first. But the couple later decided they didn’t want their children to think there was a reason to hide and began sharing their experience with the world.

"We decided to tell it our way," Greg Lincoln said. "If people want to talk about it, that’s fine with me."

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