PHILADELPHIA (WBTV) - Two formerly conjoined twins are going to return home to Mooresville, NC, just in time for Thanksgiving after spending more than a year in a Philadelphia hospital.
Erin and Abby Delany were born on July 24, 2016, joined at the top of the head - a condition called craniopagus. Nearly one year later, on June 6, a team of about 30 doctors and specialists separated the then 10-month-old girls at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
That surgery lasted about eleven hours and used 3D printers that created roadmaps of the girls' skulls, blood vessels and skin to guide surgeons. The operation was led by neurosurgeon Dr. Gregory Heuer and plastic surgeon Dr. Jesse Taylor.
"During the separation surgery, our team first meticulously separated the infants' shared blood vessels and dura, the tough protective membrane surrounding both brains, then moved on to separate the sagittal sinus, the most difficult portion of the operation," Taylor said in a statement in June.
Taylor said they then divided the medical team in half - one group for each of the twins - and finished the reconstruction portion of the surgery, he said.
Months of therapy in the hospital's rehabilitation wing followed. The Charlotte Observer reported the twins had to adjust to their separation. That included learning how to sit up for the first time.
On Monday, more than five months after that surgery, doctors announced that the girls would be going home after spending 485 days in the hospital.
Doctors at the hospital say the girls will require additional surgeries as they grow up, but that everyone on the team is optimistic about their progress.
The girls' parents are optimistic as well.
"The girls are inspiring," mother Heather Delaney told hospital team members. "As their parents, it is very neat for Riley and me to have a front-row seat to this and watch them overcome these incredible obstacles. We cannot wait to see what their future holds!"
"The team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has become like family," added Heather. "Riley and I are so grateful for the care our girls have received here and so excited to take them home - just in time for the holidays."