NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A story of two miracles, two decades in the making, began with the birth of conjoined twin sisters who were later separated by surgery.
CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez was in the operating room when the pair were separated and recently brought CBS 2 a joyful follow-up.
The separation of Rosa and Carmen Taveras was unusual, but an event that took place earlier this month was nearly unheard of in medical history.
The Taveras sisters are identical twins who did not completely separate as embryos. They were stuck together at the bottom with their legs sticking out at right angles.
The twins were brought to Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia 20 years ago to be separated during more than 14 hours of surgery that involved rerouting and dividing the internal organs and reconstructing the girls’ severely malformed pelvis and hips.
Now, Rosa and Carmen are happy, healthy young adults, and Rosa is a mother.
“I never thought I was going to be able to have a baby,” she said.
Rosa is only the fourth conjoined twin ever known to have given birth after separation. And, after the extensive pelvic reconstruction that was performed on the twins, Rosa didn’t believe that she would be able to give birth.
“I was at 4 months and I still didn’t believe it,” she said. “At 6 months, still, and until the day he was born that’s when I actually, like, really believed it. Like, he’s my baby, and I was able to have a kid like I never really thought I was able to.”
The baby, named Elijah, was delivered by Dr. Kristen Cleary of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center via caesarean section at 37 weeks into the pregnancy.
“There was some scarring, but in general, we didn’t encounter any major issues,” Cleary said, “The anatomy was not as we expected. It was unique, but we were able to manage it well.”
The sisters live in the same building in the Bronx and are extraordinarily close. At times, they finish each other’s sentences and even seem to know what the other is feeling.
“You can say it’s not psychic exactly,”
“You can say it’s not psychic exactly, but it’s that feeling you have inside you,” Carmen said.
Beyond the historical aspects of the birth, the moment was a real payoff for Dr. Steven Stylianos of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, one of the lead surgeons in the twins’ separation.
“When you see a child with those challenges first walk, when you learn that they hit their teenage years and they were just the same as every other girl in school, and now that they’re young women and they’ve had their reproductive capabilities put to the test with a very successful, beautiful, little boy being born — those are really moments to treasure,” Stylianos said.
Rosa plans to go back to school to study criminal justice and eventually become a police officer. Carmen underwent several surgeries to repair leg issues is now studying nursing.
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