Conjoined Twins Introduction a Blessed Event for the Holiday Season

On Thursday, December 20, 2012, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) introduced their most recent successful medical development, Ashley June and Amelia Lee Tucker, previously conjoined twins that were separated by a 40 member team of medical professionals, in an extremely complex seven-hour surgery last month.

The twins who hail from Adams, New York, were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen, and had a common chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver. The twins are almost 10 months old, and have spent their entire lives inside the Children’s Hospital. Allison was discharged on December 17th, and Amelia will require a longer recovery time, and will be staying at the hospital until sometime early next year.

“Both Allison and Amelia are doing well, and we expect them both to enjoy full, healthy and independent lives,” said Dr. Holly L Hedrick, M.D, the pediatric general, thoracic and fetal surgeon who led the 40 member team of doctors that carried out the complex seven-hour separation of the girls early last month.

This is the 21st time that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has separated a pair of conjoined twins. Remarkable.

Shellie and Greg Tucker, the girls parents, learned of the genetic malformation about 20 weeks into Shellie’s pregnancy. It was at that point that their OB/GYN Doctor referred them to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where they could receive expert evaluation and prenatal imaging, including fetal MRI, fetal echocardiogram, and ultrasound.

“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,” remarked Shellie, adding, “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.”

Following specialized prenatal care administered at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Allison and Amelia were born in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, and were delivered on March 1 by C-section.

Crucial preoperative preparations were put into place months before the actual separation, and in a remarkable procedure, plastic surgeon David Low, M.D., and his team of surgeons inserted skin expanders into both infants to increase the skin surface available to cover exposed tissue after the twins were separated.

It is procedures like these, and many others developed here at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that make them the worldwide leaders in conjoined twins separation, a fact that must make all the medical professionals employed at the hospital extremely proud to be a part of.

“The ability to plan and carry out this type of surgery is testament to the skill and expertise available here at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said N. Scott Adzick M.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia surgeon in chief. “I am extremely proud of Dr. Hendrik and her team for their courage, dedication and expertise. These two beautiful babies now have a promising future because of the love and courage of her parents who entrusted their daughters to our care.”

Medical miracles happen on a daily basis, but nowhere more so than at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Congratulations Dr. Hendrik, you have earned them.

Article by Jim Donahue

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