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Cook Children’s celebrates historic surgery separating conjoined twins

The girls were born Oct. 3, looking face-to-face and connected from the lower part of their breast bones to their belly buttons.

FORT WORTH, Texas — In Cook Children’s Medical Center’s 105-year history, its doctors had never performed a separation surgery for conjoined twins.

That is, until Monday.

Sisters AmieLynn and JamieLyn Rae Finley were born conjoined in October 2022, hospital staff announced at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Monday’s operation spanned 11 hours and included 25 different medical professionals, including six surgeons.

Both twins, staff said, are recovering well.

“The separation surgery will give AmieLynn and JamieLynn better opportunities to improve their health and development, and to grow as the unique, individual little girls that they have been since birth, regardless of their physical connection as conjoined twins,” said Jose L. Iglesias, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Surgery at Cook Children’s Medical Center and the lead surgeon for twins’ surgery.

Conjoined twins are very rare. Hospital staff estimate conjoined twins occur 1 - in- 200,000 live-births and say only 5 to 8 conjoined twins worldwide survive the first days after birth.

The girls were born Oct. 3, looking face-to-face and connected from the lower part of their breast bones to their belly buttons. They also shared a liver, and collectively, weighed just 4 pounds, 7.8 ounces.

Credit: Cook Children's

The surgery took months of preparation. The team at Cook Children’s studied the girls’ scans, built models of their anatomy, mapped out potential surgical solutions and rehearsed the surgery, doctors said.

“At this stage in AmieLynn and JamieLynn’s growth and development, this was the right time for them to have the surgery,” said Dr. Mary Frances Lynch, neonatologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

The surgery was so intense each twin needed its own full team, doctors added. During the surgery, doctors, nurses and technicians were separated into two teams, one for each twin.

JamileLynn’s team wore purple scrub hats, and AmieLynn’s team wore green scrub hats. Both girls had their nails painted, accordingly.

Credit: Cook Children's

During the news conference, the girls’ parents, James Finley and Amanda Arciniega addressed reporters. Arciniega had tears in her eyes, saying she was too emotional to speak.

She did say, though, through tears, that she told her girls, “mommy’s here,” as soon as she was able to see them post-op.

Credit: Cook Children's

“We’ve learned to be strong,” Finley said. “We were like, ‘Woah, why us? Why did God choose us to be these girls’ parents?’ And I pray, we have faith… we just had to walk through the steps.”

And if there was any doubt, Finley assured the crowd Wednesday his girls are like all twins.

“They fight a lot,” he laughed.

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