SACRAMENTO, Calif — During a 24-hour operation, UC Davis Children's Hospital surgeons successfully separated nine-month-old conjoined twins who were born connected at the head.
Abigail and Micaela Bachinskiy were born Craniopagus twins, an extremely rare occurrence that happens in about one of every 2.5 million births, according to the UC Davis Medical Center.
The surgery, which began on Friday, Oct. 23, was the first time conjoined twins were separated at the UC Davis Children's Hospital. The UC Davis Children's Surgery Center specifically built a custom room to perform the procedure to separate the Bachinskiy twins.
Liliya Bachinskiy, the twins' mother, learned her children were conjoined twins when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Her doctor then referred her to UC Davis Medical Center.
Medical workers created conjoined mannequins based on Liliya's MRI to help surgeons identify the challenges doctors could face during the delivery. This helped doctors prepare for risks such as compromised airways, collapsed lungs, and the need for a CPAP machine in breathing.
Aida Benitez, a nursing lead who was present to watch the surgical team, clapped and cheered when the babies were separated at 3:28 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.
"After 10 months of preparation, we were witnessing what we had all envisioned for the girls and we were overcome with emotion and joy," Benitez said in a news release. "I will never see 3:28 on a clock again and not think of the moment that Abi and Mica became two separate babies."
Michael Edwards, a pediatric neurosurgeon, described the twins' separation in a news release as "a landmark surgery for the UC Davis Children's Hospital."
"Abigail and Micaela are doing well and recovering in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, thanks to an amazing team effort dedicated to ensuring these very rare twins have the best shot at a healthy life ahead," Edwards said. "We are honored to have helped with their birth, cared for them since, and to now give them the chance to live independent and separate lives."
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