Family celebrates successful separation of conjoined twin sisters

By Dave Andrusko

Eva and Erika McDonald after the surgery with their mother, Aida Sandoval

Eva and Erika McDonald after the surgery with their mother, Aida Sandoval

Imagine being only two-years-old and undergoing surgery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, California, so complicated it stretched out a whopping 17 hours. That’s what it took to separate conjoined twins Eva and Erika McDonald.

On Wednesday, the hospital released a video of the twins who were separated a week ago last Tuesday.

The hospital’s Dr. Meghna Patel said the twins are progressing well. “They have had no significant complications,” she told the Associated Press. “The twins are conscious and breathing without ventilators,” ABC News reported. “They are expected to remain in the ICU before moving to an acute care unit.”

The risky operation was pushed back from early 2016 because of medical complications. Dr. Gary Hartman led the massive team of 50 which separated Eva and Erika.

Eva and Erika McDonald before their surgery.

Eva and Erika before their surgery.

Prior to the surgery the Sandoval twins, born in Sacramento in 2014, were conjoined from the chest and shared a bladder, liver, intestinal parts, and a third leg. “Eva and Erika each retain portions of the organs they shared, and each still has one leg,” according to reporter David Caplan.

A tender profile in the Sacramento Bee, written by Sammy Caiola, narrated the family’s life ever since the girls were born and the fear and expectation and dread leading up to the surgery.

Caiola did not underplay that there had been a 30% chance that one or both children might die , but that mounting medical difficulties (partly because of their shared digestive system) gave the family no choice.

Fortunately the skill of the surgical team was enough to overcome the enormous complexity of such daunting surgery. A very grateful Aida Sandoval, the mother of Eva and Erika, told The Associated Press.”It was such a thrill for us to see the girls next to one another again.”