In ancient times, conjoined twins were a medical mystery that seldom survived to adulthood. However, modern medicine has allowed new advances that let more conjoined twins live healthy and happy lives. The case of Jadon and Anias McDonald has captivated the interest of millions of people worldwide.
When the infants were born in early 2016, they were joined at the head. This rare form of the medical condition is particularly dangerous because it can involve a fused skull. Since birth, the two boys had spent most of their lives in the intensive care unit. They received around the clock care from the Montefiore Medical Center since they were airlifted to the hospital in February.
Anias was the weaker of the two boys, and there were many scary moments when he stopped breathing and lost consciousness. After a particularly severe bout of influenza, the doctors decided to wait until the boys were stronger before attempting the dangerous surgery. The boys parents, Nicole and Christian moved to New York along with their other son, 3 year old Aza, so they could be near the twins while they were in the hospital.
Though the surgery was very risky, it had to be done. Twins who are joined at the head have an 80 percent chance of dying by the age of two if they are not separated. Experienced neurosurgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, worked alongside plastic surgeon Dr. Oren Tepper to conduct the risky surgery. It took 27 hours, but was ultimately successful. In October, the two boys were completely separated.
The next few months were a lengthy recovery period. The staff at the hospital said that they cared for the babies so long that they become part of the hospital family. The little boys required extensive monitors, feeding tubes, and IVs. Anias has a hole in his skull from where he was attached to Jadon. He will have to undergo another reconstructive surgery to close this hole once his skull has grown to a larger size.
The prognosis for the two boys is very good. Today, they finally got to go home. For the first time in their lives, they were able to travel away from a hospital without being in severe medical distress. The infants may not be completely conjoined anymore, but they are still very close. They left the hospital laying side by side in a red wagon. Their big brother sat in the front of the wagon.
As they were pulled through the hallways, the doctors and nurses lined the way, cheering and waving baby rattles. Though they had to wear protective helmets, they were otherwise alert and healthy. They can now breathe and eat on their own. According to the doctors, it is one of the fastest recoveries from separation surgery ever.
The twins leave to go to Blythesdale Children’s Hospital, where the whole family can live together in a special facility. This hospital will monitor their recovery and help with rehab and physical therapy while the family lives together in a suite. Their father, Christian, says “I’m excited…From this point on, we can actually be all together as a family.” Nicole added, “I know that the boys will flourish here. It’s an exciting step.”