Former conjoined twins well enough to go home

Formerly conjoined twin 2-year-old girls from Costa Rica are well enough to go home soon, two months after they were separated by surgeons in a nine-hour operation at Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto.

The girls, Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias, were the stars of a press conference Tuesday at the hospital as their mother, Maria Elizabeth Arias, expressed her gratitude to the hospital staff, physicians and nonprofit groups that made the operation possible.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Arias thanked the hospital "for opening the doors to our girls and giving life back to them. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart."

All the medical care was donated by the hospital while a non-profit group, Mending Kids International, paid their transportation and housing.

Doctors had initially given the girls a 50-50 chance of survival. They had been conjoined at their chests and abdomens.

Yurelia needed a second operation shortly after the Nov. 12 separation surgery to correct a congenital heart anomaly, while Fiorella needed a second operation to help reconstruct her chest cavity.

"The girls are doing well, they have been healing," Gary Hartman, lead surgeon for their care, said. "We think the surgeries are done."

Now, the girls await when they will return home with their mother to Costa Rica to rejoin their father and a large family of nine brothers and sisters who helped care for the girls since their birth.

When Hartman arrived in Costa Rica last July to bring the girls and their mother to Palo Alto, he said he was struck by how close and loving the family was.

He said he realized that "I'm taking these girls away and I may not bring them back. We don't have to worry about that now. That is not the story."

After the press conference in a hospital auditorium, the girls were taken out to a wide hallway with two small wagons full of toys. They seemed more interested in each other and the toys than the photographers who surrounded them.

— Don Kazak


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2008 at 3:40 pm

It is truly wonderful to see a happy ending to this story and these two healthy little girls returning home.

Oh, but the end of the story is very unclear. Since they have spent months here in the US where they have received not only the very best medical treatment, but also seen the best of the benevolence of the US people, they will be returning to a country where life will be harder particularly taking into account the size of the family. Fortunately, they are young enough that their young memories will soon forget some of the things they have seen here, and that just may be a very good thing for them.

Best wishes to them and all their family.

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Posted by Honey Trap
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2008 at 3:20 am

Great - - - Now the mother can go home and have yet more kids. The terms of this transaction should have included rendering her baby factory non-operational.

In case you pro-abortion Palo Alto types did not know this uneducated pageant winner has 9 kids already.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 23, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Honey Trap: I've never met anyone who was pro-abortion. What are you talking about? Is this the fantasy that you believe in? Believing abortion should be legal IS NOT the same as being pro-abortion, and you know that. Or maybe not, since you don't seem very bright.

Besides, this isn't about the mom (who you seem to see through the racist lens of a brown person who makes babies like a rabbit). This is about two kids who have been saved from either death or from life as conjoined twins. How awesome that a hospital in our city was able to perform this amazing feat.

You might spend less time taking a story about two year old girls and twisting it for your own hateful ignorant political purposes and more time looking for your soul. It appears you've lost it.

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Posted by Sue
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Well said Tom !

Parent: "Fortunately, they are young enough that their young memories will soon forget some of the things they have seen here, and that just may be a very good thing for them." ----- shows a very narrow minded, judgmental attitude.

What makes you think they wanted to stay back in the USA? I applaud them for sticking to the plan of their return to their home country and not trying to seek residency in the USA on merits of health issues.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2008 at 2:50 pm


You get my point exactly.

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