Two-year-old conjoined twins will be separated this week at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in a surgery expected to last eight or nine hours, hospital officials said.
Angelina and Angelica Sabuco, born in the Philippines and now living in San Jose, are set to undergo surgery on Tuesday. The girls are joined at the sternum and have livers and diaphragms that are tightly fused together. They have separate hearts, ribs and digestive systems, however.
Separating and reconstructing the girls will require a team of more than 20 doctors and nurses. The liver separation is the most dangerous portion of the surgery, as it could cause major blood loss, officials said.
"This is a major operation, but we really expect both twins to survive and do well," said pediatric surgeon Dr. Gary Hartman.
If all goes well, the girls will remain in intensive care for four to five days after the surgery, and then another week in regular care before being released to go home, officials said.
The twins' mother, Ginady Sabuco, 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 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."
"I hope that when they grow up, they go to school, graduate and get stable jobs," Ginady said. "I want them to have a good future."