Under the supervision of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, operations were performed on three-year-olds twins Bernardo and Arthur Lima in Rio de Janeiro.
The teams tested several methods for months utilizing virtual reality twins projections that were based on CT and MRI images.
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Noor ul Owase Jeelani, a surgeon, called it “space-age stuff.”
According to Gemini Untwined, the nonprofit Mr. Jeelani formed in 2018, it was one of the most difficult separation operations ever finished.
He said that for the first time, surgeons from several nations operated together in a “virtual reality room” while donning headsets.
The twins underwent seven operations, the last of which required approximately 100 medical personnel and more than 27 hours of operating time.
Speaking about the VR aspect of the surgery, Mr Jeelani told the PA news agency: “It’s just wonderful. It’s really great to see the anatomy and do the surgery before you actually put the children at any risk.
“You can imagine how reassuring that is for the surgeons.
“In some ways these operations are considered the hardest of our time, and to do it in virtual reality was just really man-on-Mars stuff.”
He claimed that the boys’ anatomy was confounded by scar tissue as a result of prior unsuccessful attempts to separate them, and he expressed his “genuine apprehension” about the risky treatment.
After the 27-hour procedure, during which he only took four 15-minute breaks for food and water, Mr. Jeelani said he was “totally shattered,” but it was “amazing” to see the family “over the moon” afterwards.
The boys’ blood pressure and heart rates were “through the roof,” as it is with all conjoined twins after separation, he continued, until they were reunited and touched hands four days later.
The twins will get six months of rehabilitation care as they continue their successful hospital recovery.
After performing separation procedures on twins from Pakistan, Sudan, Israel, and Turkey, this was Mr. Jeelani’s sixth procedure with Gemini Untwined.
Along with Dr. Gabriel Mufarrej, director of pediatric surgery at Brazil’s Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer, he oversaw the procedure.
The boys have been receiving care at the hospital where Dr. Mufarrej works for the past 2.5 years, and their separation will be “life-changing,” he added.
“Since the parents of the boys came from their home in the Roraima region to Rio to seek our help two-and-a-half years ago, they have become part of our family here in the hospital. We are delighted that the surgery went so well.”
At approximately four years old, Bernardo and Arthur are the eldest separated craniopagus twins (twins with a fused brain).
Only 5% of conjoined twin pregnancies, or one in every 60,000, result in craniopagus twins, according to the charity.