Doctors in Taiwan have successfully separated Siamese twins in an historic twelve hour operation. Unprecedented?
Doctors in Taiwan have successfully separated Siamese twins in an historic twelve hour operation. Unprecedented in Asia, and only the fourth of its kind in the world, the nationally televised operation was performed at the Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei.
SYNOPSIS: The two and a half year old twins, Chang Chung-jen and Chang Chung-yi had been joined at the pelvis. Facing each other they shared three legs, one of them deformed, one set of genitals, one anus and part of the intestinal and urinary tracts. After being born in December 1976 they were sent to the Chung Shan School of Medicine at Taichung. In June this year they were transferred to the Taiwan University Hospital for a series of tests and examinations to see if they could be successfully separated. When doctors decided to go ahead they gave the twins only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. The delicate separation procedure had been tried in just three other cases throughout the world. Of those, one successfully separated. When doctors decided to go ahead they gave the twins only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. The delicate separation procedure had been tried in just three other cases throughout the world. Of those, one succeeded, another failed and in the third only one of the twins lived.
For this operation doctors decided to plan the surgery on a model of the twins. It was built to scale, almost an exact replica.
The internal organs were duplicated according to how they were thought to be formed. Later during the actual operation it was found some of the organs were lying differently to how doctors had expected. The surgical team was made up of 36 doctors and medical experts, many of them professors from the university's medical school. They spent many hours perfecting the separation technique on the model before deciding they were ready for Chung-jen and Chung-yi.
The twins had spent weeks being prepared for the operation. Air had been pumped into their shared stomach to stretch the skin so it would cover the separated parts after surgery. The medical team was divided into four groups..each would operate for about three hours. The first problem came early in the operation, when doctors unexpectedly discovered the livers of the twins overlapped. They had to be separated. Next the large intestine was cut into two sections, the upper one was given to Chung-yi the lower to Chung-jen. The second team corrected the urinary system, the third carried out the actual separation of the pelvis. The deformed limb was removed leaving the twins with one leg each. Chung-yi was given the genital organ, but doctors said he would never be able to reproduce. The fourth team replaced the skin over the incisions. After the operation doctors said the twins were recovering, but wouldn't be out of danger for at least ten days.