One-year-old twin girls joined at the head have been successfully separated in Israel by a team led by a British neurosurgeon.
Dr Noor ul Owase Jeelani, a consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, led the 12-hour surgery with the support of a local team at Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba, Israel.
It is the first time the procedure has been carried out outside the UK by the team at medical charity Gemini Untwined since it was founded in 2018 by Dr Owase Jeelani.
The team have now completed five separation surgeries since 2006, two of them before Gemini was set up.
Dr Owase Jeelani said: “I am delighted that the surgery has gone well and the girls, their family and the local team have had a good outcome.
“It is through this process of teamwork and knowledge-sharing globally that we can hope to improve the outcome for all children and families that find themselves in this difficult position.”
Kamal Rahman, one of the founders of Gemini Untwined, added: “It’s exciting that we have now helped three families from different countries with this lifechanging surgery.”
Mr Rahman said the prevalence of conjoined twins is higher in less developed communities where there is little foetal monitoring, which is where charities like Gemini Untwined can assist.
He said: “Gemini seeks to provide not only research and technical support to the local medical teams but also financial support to facilitate the complex surgery and post-operative rehabilitation where needed.
“We are presently supporting other families that find themselves in this challenging situation.”
It is estimated fifty such sets of craniopagus conjoined twins, joined at the head, are born around the world every year.
Of them, it is thought only 15 survive beyond the first 30 days of life.
With current technologies, which the charity aims to make more accessible, approximately half of these cases would be candidates for successful surgical separation.