Developing

Conjoined Twins Separated In 20-Hour Op

Doctors in Chile have managed to separate conjoined twin girls in a 20-hour operation, saying everything went very well despite a number of problems.

The 10-month-old twins, Maria Jose and Maria Paz, are now recovering in an intensive care unit at the Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital in Santiago.

Doctors say the next two days will be critical as staff watch for infections or other possible complications.

Parents Jessica Navarrete and Roberto Paredes waited anxiously as doctors carried out the complicated procedure.

The girls were separated at the thorax, abdomen and pelvis. It was the seventh and most complex operation they had undergone and involved around 100 medical staff.

Chief surgeon Francisco Ossandon described it as the moment "the girls finished the process of being born".

"Before, they had two souls and one body," he told a news conference.

"We had a number of difficulties during the surgery. There were some surprises, but we were able to fix, solve the problems."

Dr. Carlos Acuna, chief of the intensive care unit, said: "The next 48 hours will be the most critical in terms of the risk they face of dying."

He said the girls had kidney and lung problems and there was a danger some of their organs might cease to function.

Separating them was extremely complicated as they were born sharing many of the same internal organs and urinary system.

The girls were born in February at the Villarrica hospital about 470 miles (760km) south of Santiago and were kept alive with the aid of an artificial respirator.

Earlier this year, doctors separated their legs, urinary tracts, pulmonary systems and other parts of their bodies.

During the latest surgery, doctors managed to separate an intestine that had been shared by the two, giving each a part of it.

The hospital says Maria Jose and Maria Paz will remain sedated on a respirator for the next three days at least.

Medical experts say they have a five to 25 percent chance of surviving.