Mother 'numb with worry' during operation to separate conjoined twins

I met Angela and Daniel Formosa in their new house in South London. They're redecorating but not quite finished yet.

Lawrence McGinty with Angela and Daniel Formosa Credit: ITV News

And next to a still-unplastered wall stand two baby cradles. With two brand new babies, Ruby and Rosie, fast asleep. They couldn't look healthier. Dan and Angela's five-year-old Lily gently prods her sisters, full of pride.

But Ruby and Rosie are two very lucky babies. A scan early in Angela's pregnancy showed that they were unusually close together. A flood of scans followed which revealed that the babies were conjoined.

Angela and Daniel were understandably worried and fearful. Conjoined twins are rare - about 1 in 200,000 births and, as one medical text puts it, their futures are "far from assured". Rosie and Ruby were lying facing each other joined by a bridge between their abdomens.

They shared some of their intestines. The surgical team at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the most experienced centre in the world for treating conjoined twins, was alerted. Doctors told Angela they could deliver her babies by Caesarian section at 32 weeks. But they were growing so well, they left it until 34 weeks.

Ruby and Rosie were delivered at University College Hospital weighing over 5 pounds. But there was a problem. They had a blockage in their intestine. That was an emergency - a blockage could perforate the intestine and that could be fatal. So just over 24 hours after birth a surgical team of 20 doctors and nurses began the operation to separate them.

The identical twins are only 12 weeks old Credit: ITV News

The leader of the team plastic surgeon Agostino Pierro told me it was a challenging operation. One twin had rather more intestine than the other and they had to try to even that out. Separating conjoined twins is always difficult.

One example - the life-support equipment in Great Ormond Street's sparkling new operating theatres is designed for one patient at a time. They had to lash up machines for two.

Meanwhile, Angela was recovering at UCH. But she couldn't bear to be away from her babies, so she discharged herself and rushed the half mile or so to Great Ormond Street to be with them. The operation on Ruby and Rosie wasn't the most difficult surgically the team at Great Ormond Street have undertaken.

Dan and Angela's five-year-old daughter Lily helps dress the twins Credit: ITV News

But the fact that it was an emergency operation made it all the more tense. After 5 hours of surgery, two weeks in intensive care and a total of a month in hospital, Rosie and Ruby are home.

They sleep like, well babies, as Angela and Daniel push their buggy through the local park to feed the ducks.

They will need further treatment, but they are safe and sound.

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