Nima and Dawa Palden, 15-month-old conjoined twins from Bhutan, was successfully separated at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne in Australia yesterday.

According to foreign media reports, the surgery which started around 8:30am (AEDT) was carried out by four surgeons and a team of about 18 people. The surgery took six-hours.

The head of paediatric surgery, Dr Joe Crameri, reportedly told Herald Sun, a newspaper based in Melbourne, that it took two hours before the girls could enter surgery. “The one thing I got right about this operation was that it would take about six hours and that is about as long as it took.”

He said the surgery was successful despite having to manage the expectations of the family and the public.  

The girls were joined at the lower chest to just above the pelvis. The surgeons at the RCH earlier confirmed that the girls shared a liver.

“The liver breach was perhaps a little more significant than we thought it might be,” he told the Herald Sun. “We were able to separate that without any bleeding, from that point it was good.”

He said there were no significant bowel attachments and that the main challenge was to reconstruct the girls’ abdomens.

The girls were breathing independently after what surgeons said was “an enormous day” for all involved.

Dr Crameri thanked the surgical team. He said the twins’ mother, Bhumchu Zangmo, was “smiling, very happy and grateful”.

The team said the next 24 to 48 hours would be critical and the girls would be closely monitored.

The expense for surgery and flights to Australia is funded by the Children First Foundation, an Australian-based charity that focuses on ensuring children from developing countries have access to specialist surgeries and medical care.

The $350,000 surgery is expected to be covered by the Victorian State Government.

Staff Reporter