Formerly conjoined twins Amelia L. and Allison J. Tucker, 9 months, were introduced to the world Thursday for the first time since their successful separation surgery last month.
Six weeks after their separation at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pa., the twins celebrated their new phases of life, along with their parents, Greg and Shellie Tucker, Adams, big brother, Owen, and the medical team that has taken care of them.
"Greg and I are thrilled that our daughters have been given this remarkable gift by the amazing team from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia," Mrs. Tucker said, in a news release issued Thursday by the hospital. "We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that the medical team, our families and our friends have given us during this long journey."
The Nov. 7 surgery was the 21st such surgery for the Children's Hospital. Amelia and Allison were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen and shared their chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver. Allison was discharged three days ago, but Amelia will require a longer recovery time, as she is expected to be in the hospital into the new year, according to the release.
Dr. Holly L. Hedrick, a pediatric general, thoracic and fetal surgeon who led the 40-member team that carried out the seven-hour separation surgery, said the girls should both go on to full, healthy and independent lives.
Before the big revelation Thursday, Mrs. Tucker posted on the girls' CaringBridge page that the long road from her pregnancy to the delivery, then the separation of the girls, has been a roller coaster of emotions. Through prayer and support, the Tucker family has endured all of the challenging highs and lows throughout the past year and a half.
"Looking at myself today, I feel like I am more mature and more of an adult than most adults five years older than me," Mrs. Tucker wrote in a CaringBridge entry. "I have weathered storms some will never experience."
She wrote that she looks forward to going home, having her whole family together "in the same place and I am ready for my kids to be free to play on our living room floor."
Amelia and Allison have lived at the Children's Hospital since their birth March 1 in a planned Cesarean-section delivery. Since their separation surgery, according to the hospital's release, neonatology, pulmonary, nutrition specialists and the child life development care team, among others, have followed the girls "to ensure that they receive the best clinical care as they thrive and grow."
"These two beautiful babies now have a promising future because of the love and courage of their parents who entrusted their daughters to our care," said Dr. N. Scott Adzick, surgeon-in-chief.
Since the Tucker family most likely will spend Christmas in Philadelphia, Mrs. Tucker put out a call to supporters on her CaringBridge page who have asked how they could help the family. She said she plans to use cloth diapers for the girls, and she set up a wish list through Toys-R-Us. While many items are already purchased, a few are left and can be viewed by searching for "Shellie Tucker" at www.toysrus.com/wishlist.
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