After almost 10 hours of surgery, two-year-old conjoined twins Angelica and Angelina Sabuco were successfully separated, officials of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital announced Tuesday.
"I thank God for everything," the girls' mother Ginady Sabuco said.
"Words cannot express how the family feels for the successful separation of our twins, Angelica and Angelina."
The twins, born in the Philippines and now living in San Jose, have separate hearts, ribs and digestive systems but were joined at the sternum and had livers and diaphragms that were tightly fused together.
Hospital officials said the riskiest portion of the surgery, dividing the girls' liver, "went slowly but smoothly." Lead surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman said in a news conference, "It could not have gone better."
"We were able to close the abdominal muscles without a graft, and the chest closure also went better than expected," he said.
The procedure involved about 20 physicians and around 15 to 20 operating room staff, hospital officials said. The girls' will have a scar from their chests to their stomachs. "That's all that will show," plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Lorenz said.
The twins' mother said she was seven months pregnant when she learned they were conjoined. Her husband, Fidel, was living and working in San Jose while she was still in the Philippines with her son. Ginady said earlier this week that the surgery would make some things easier, like allowing her to separate the girls when they fight, but she didn't believe it would change who they are.
She described Angelica as talkative and Angelina as a "silent type." Tuesday night the girls were recovering in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, where they are expected to stay for about a week.
"They're very resilient," Hartman said in a statement. "The long-term prognosis is that we would expect a happy, healthy set of girls. We don't see any barriers to a complete recovery."