The family of formerly conjoined twins Scarlett and Ximena Hernandez-Torres will be leaving Corpus Christi soon to return home to the Rio Grande Valley. A farewell reception for the twins was held Monday, Feb. 6, at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Scarlett, Ximena and their triplet sister were born May 16, 2015, and the conjoined twins were transported to Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) 70 minutes after birth.
They were delivered by Driscoll Health System Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists Ryan Loftin, MD, and Anna B. Gonzalez, MD.
Scarlett and Ximena remained at Driscoll under the care of Driscoll physicians as they prepared for the girls’ separation surgery.
The physicians, led by Team Leader and Pediatric Surgeon Haroon Patel, MD, prepared for the surgery using virtual computer simulations and generating 3-D models of the conjoined twins’ anatomy. Surgeons also employed innovative technology, the Image Perfusion Scanner, which had never been used in surgery to separate conjoined twins. The scanner, or “Spy Camera,” assesses blood flow in areas where physicians are operating and provides critical information to assist surgeons in determining where to divide skin and organs. Scarlett and Ximena were fused below the waist and shared a colon and bladders.
The separation surgery began April 12, 2016, at 8:37 a.m. and ended at 8:47 p.m., Driscoll’s first operation on conjoined twins. Forty-five medical professionals assisted in the surgery, including those from pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, orthopaedics, and anesthesia. Prior to the separation surgery, the surgical team coordinated with a variety of physicians, therapists and specialists in other disciplines to care for the girls’ nutrition, recovery preparation and family needs. Physicians say Scarlett and Ximena will require additional surgeries as they age.
Steve Woerner, President and CEO of Driscoll Health System, described the separation surgery as a “man on the moon event” for Driscoll.
Dr. Patel said teamwork was the key to the surgery going so well.
“The success of such a rare and challenging operation like this depends on having a skilled team of professionals working together,” he said. Since the surgery, “they have made phenomenal progress,” said Dr. Patel.
On May 16, 2016, the triplets celebrated their first birthday with a party at Driscoll. All three girls smiled and enjoyed birthday cake with family and friends throughout the hospital.
Scarlett and Ximena were discharged from Driscoll Children’s Hospital on May 18, 2016. They entered the hospital conjoined, but left in separate seats in their double stroller.