Motivated by warnings that her daughters would likely die without surgery, the twins’ mother has decided to allow experts to attempt to separate them.
The top of Tatiana’s head is attached to the back of Anastasia’s. Twins born joined at the head – called craniopagus twins – are extremely rare, occurring in about 1 in 2.5 million births.
The separation carries many risks – including the possibility of brain damage, stroke or a deadly amount of blood loss – but doctors say the twins cannot continue to live as they are. Not only is it awkward, but their conjoined condition would lead to a variety of medical problems.
“Without separation, the girls won’t make it,” says Dr Kenneth Salyer, a plastic surgeon who founded the World Craniofacial Foundation and serves as chairman of the board. “And with separation it’s a high-risk operation.”
At least four operations are expected to be required, with the first likely to take place in May.