Formerly conjoined 2-year-old twins Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias are coming home to Costa Rica after successful separation surgery in the United States.
“I feel very happy and content,” said their mother, María Elizabeth Rocha-Arias, at a press conference this week. “My girls were born anew in this hospital.”
The conference was the first public appearance for the twins – who are Rocha- Arias’ 10th and 11th children – since surgeries began in November at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California.
The twins, after six months of multiple surgeries and daily physical therapy, appeared playful before the snapping cameras.
They pushed toy carts and swatted at soap bubbles. Most importantly, they could stand up as individuals.
This was not the case when non-profit Mending Kids International took on their case, paying for their transport and housing, and Packard Hospital agreed to evaluate them after a Southern California hospital declined, according to the California daily Mercury News.
Born joined at the chest and abdomen, Yurelia and Fiorella shared a liver and their hearts were attached at the right atria.Yurelia had a congenital heart defect that needed repair.
Packard Hospital agreed to pay for their treatment estimated about $2 million.
On Nov. 12, dozens of surgeons and other medical professionals gathered for a nine-hour procedure to separate the twins. Doctors gave them a 50% chance of surviving.
That same week, on Nov. 14, doctors worked to correct Yurelia’s heart. Nov. 19 saw another, minor operation on Fiorella’s chest.
Dr. Gary Hartman, who led the separation surgery, said the twins will likely face few complications when they return home, according to the Associated Press.
“The girls are doing well. They have healed,” the AP quoted Hartman.
Their mother said the girls are budding into distinctive personalities.
Fiorella “has the strongest,” she said, according to the Mercury News. “Yurelia has more of a sweet personality.”
Nevertheless, the girls can’t live without each other – but now only in the emotional sense.