Conjoined Bhutanese twins Nima and Dawa have been successfully separated after a six-hour life-changing surgery in Melbourne.
A team of up to 25 surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists at the Royal Children’s Hospital helped separate the 15-month-old girls, who were joined at the torso and shared a liver.
“We didn’t find any surprises, we knew the liver would be connected, we divided that successfully – the main challenge was getting the abdomen reconstructed,” head of paediatric surgery Dr Joe Crameri told reporters.
“We are here earlier because there wasn’t anything in the girls’ tummies we weren’t prepared for.”
It was originally feared the girl’s bowel would also be connected, which wasn’t so.
The girl’s mother Bhumchu Zangmo is said to be “relieved” after having a very stressful day.
Both girls are back breathing on their own and recovering well.
“I think the best part of the surgery is there were no highs and lows, it was all very calm. It’s a sense of relief,” Dr Crameri said.
He expects the girls will be in hospital for at least a week, but is hoping his team will be able to avoid putting them in ICU.
“There will be challenges over the next 24 to 48 hours as with any surgery, but we will be closely monitoring,” he said.
One of the key pre-surgery risks was the use of anaesthetic, as doctors were unsure how one twin will react to the other receiving it. It took two hours before surgery could actually begin after the girls were administered.
The operation had previously been postponed after last-minute checks revealed the sisters were not ready.
The sisters were brought to Australia with their mother Ms Zangmo in October and have been staying at the Children First Foundation retreat in Kilmore.
The charity’s chief executive Elizabeth Lodge said Ms Zangmo was both excited and nervous about the surgery.
“This morning she used the word happy, yesterday she said she was a little bit scared and just pleased that today is finally here,” she told 3AW radio.
The procedure and recovery are expected to cost at least $350,000 and the state government has offered to pay the bill.
Other funds raised will go towards the twin’s rehabilitation and return home.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018