Formerly conjoined twins—who underwent an unprecedented separation procedure—just celebrated five years of life since their operation.
The South Texas twins are healthy and thriving, thanks to the expertise of pediatric surgeon Dr. Haroon Patel and the team at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Scarlett and Ximena Torres were born conjoined, a rare and surprising story on its own.
The sisters are, in fact, triplets; their identical sister, Catalina, was born free of health complications.
“I was 3 months pregnant when I found out and I couldn’t believe it,” mother Silvia Hernandez-Ambriz told Driscoll Children’s Hospital, “because they told me there were three girls and that [two] became conjoined.”
In a pregnancy with triplets, conjoined twins are extremely rare, with a 1-in-50-million chance of occurrence, reported KSAT.
“I did get very sad because I thought they were not going to make it,” Silvia told the hospital.
Because of the nature of their conjunction, the girls had a team of 45 to 50 doctors and personnel of various specialties, including anesthesiology, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, orthopedics, radiology, and urology.
“This had never been done at Driscoll Children’s Hospital,” said Patel in a video interview with the hospital. “So this was new to us.”
But the surgeons prepared for the procedure and employed every contingency until they were certain the operation would become second nature.
On April 12, 2016, Scarlett and Ximena underwent the 12-hour surgery, which was successful. They spent just a few weeks in the Driscoll post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and were released from the hospital months ahead of schedule.
“I knew they were going to be strong, because since the moment I saw them the first time, they always fought for their lives,” said Silvia.
She was right, and her girls have been happy and healthy ever since. Soon after the surgery, they learned to function independently of their twin.
On April 12, 2021, they celebrated the five-year anniversary of their surgery. The girls visited the hospital and the staff were overjoyed to see the young ladies, who the hospital says “light up every room they’re in.”
“Don’t they look good,” Patel said, watching them run around the clinic. “They know their way around here.”
Patel explained that, from the very start of working with the girls, he had told Silvia they were going to become like family.
“We let the parents know from the start that this was going to be a lifelong relationship. It wasn’t going to be a one-and-done surgery. The girls are going to have ongoing medical needs,” said Patel.
They are, indeed, like family, with the twins attending checkups on a regular basis.
“They’ve got free rein here,” joked Patel. “They are part of the family.”