One-day-old twins conjoined by the abdomen are successfully separated

One-day-old twin sisters conjoined by the stomach and sharing an umbilical cord are successfully separated in China

  • The tiny siblings in China’s Xinjiang underwent a two-hour operation on Friday 
  • They had been born sharing the breastbone, abdomen wall and umbilical cord
  • 13 medical workers teamed up to perform the procedure, which was a success
  • The babies were in stable condition and good spirits the day after, doctors said 

A pair of one-day-old twins conjoined by the stomach have been successfully separated via a two-hour operation in China.

The newborn sisters shared the breastbone, abdomen wall and umbilical cord when they were born in the western province of Xinjiang last Thursday.

The girls were in stable condition after 13 medics teamed up to complete the surgery on Friday, the first successful case of its kind in the province, according to doctors.

The tiny siblings underwent a two-hour operation one day after being born in Xinjiang, China

The babies were successfully separated and in stable condition, according to their doctors

Medical literature states that conjoined twins develop when a woman produces just one egg that doesn’t fully separate after being fertilised.

The developing embryo then begins to split into identical twins during the first few weeks but stops before the process is complete.

The Chinese siblings were born at 34 weeks of gestation and weighed 4,500 grams (9.9 pounds) between them.

Their parents live on the outskirts of Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang Province, and have an elder child, who is three years old.

Before the surgery on Friday, medics at the Xinjiang Children’s Hospital gave the babies a series of checkups and found out that they were conjoined by the breastbone, the upper part of the abdomen wall and, possibly, the liver.

This is the first time doctors in Xinjiang have successfully separated conjoined twins, according to Xinjiang Provincial People’s Hospital, which supervises the Children’s Hospital

Li Shuixue, deputy director of the hospital, considered the procedure challenging, according to a post released by the Xinjiang Provincial People’s Hospital, which supervises the Children’s Hospital.

Li said: ‘We might have to separate the conjoined twin’s breastbone, abdominal wall and liver. To perform such surgery on newborns is very difficult.’

He also pointed out that it would be unprecedented for the hospital to put two babies under general anaesthesia simultaneously.

During the operation, the anaesthetist first administered the anaesthetic into one of the girls. The medic waited for her condition to stabilise before giving the drug to the other.

After separating their umbilical cord and abdominal wall, surgeons discovered that they had separate livers. Other organs in their abdomens were functioning normally, too.

‘This means the operation became less difficult,’ Li said.

Medics are pictured pushing the girls into the operating theatre (left) and during the operation (right). All the babies’ vital signs were normal, and they were in good spirits the day after

Medics then divided their breastbone, repaired and reconstructed their abdomen walls before wrapping up the two-hour procedure.

The babies were sent to the neonatal intensive care units to receive round-the-clock care.

All their vital signs were normal, and they were in good spirits the day after the surgery, according to the Xinjiang Provincial People’s Hospital.

Births of conjoined twins, whose skin and internal organs are fused together, are rare. They are believed to occur just once in every 200,000 live births.

Approximately 40 to 60 per cent of conjoined twins arrive stillborn, and about 35 per cent survive only one day.

The overall survival rate of conjoined twins is somewhere between five per cent and 25 per cent.

For some reason, female siblings seem to have a better shot at survival than their male counterparts.

Although more male twins conjoin in the womb than female twins, females are three times as likely as males to be born alive.


Conjoined twins occur when siblings have their skin or internal organs fused together.

It affects around one in 200,000 live births.

Conjoined twins are caused by a fertilised egg beginning to split into two embryos a few weeks after conception, but the process stops before it is complete.

The most common type is twins joined at the chest or abdomen.

Separation surgery success depends on where the twins are joined.

Doctors can only tell which organs the siblings share, and therefore plan surgery, after they are born. 

At least one twin survives 75 per cent of the time. 

The most famous pair of conjoined twins was Chang and Eng Bunker, who  were born in 1811 and travelled with PT Barnum’s circus. They were born in Siam and were known as the Siamese twins.

Source: University of Maryland Medical Center 

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