The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 30, 2013

Dallas twins successfully separated

DALLAS (AP) — The mother of twins successfully separated after being born joined at the chest says she's looking forward to holding the babies she once thought had no chance of survival.

"I'm just so happy that they're here and they're alive and thriving. It's the best feeling in the world," Jenni Ezell said Thursday during a news conference at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas, where she was joined by husband Dave and a doctor.

Owen and Emmett Ezell were separated Saturday at the hospital after being born joined from just below the breast bone to just below the belly button on July 15. The babies shared a liver and intestines and had an about 3 inch by 5 inch area on their lower stomach that wasn't covered by skin or muscles.

"The whole pregnancy was very frightening. I didn't know what would happen. I didn't know if they would make it. It's hard as a mom to know that," Ezell said tearfully.

Dr. Clair Schwendeman, a neonatologist, said that once the boys were born, tests were done to determine exactly how many connections they had. During the nine-hour surgery, a team of surgeons separated the liver and intestines, with the most difficult part being the separation of a shared blood vessel in the liver.

"At this point they're as stable as we could hope for post-operatively," Schwendeman said.

Conjoined twins are rare, occurring in about one in 50,000 to one in 200,000 deliveries, the doctor said.

The Ezells, both 31, discovered the twins they were expecting were conjoined on March 1, when she was 17 weeks pregnant. The couple, who now live in Dallas but lived in Oklahoma at the time, said their doctor there gave them little hope the babies would survive.

"We didn't think they had a chance, that they weren't going to make it at all," she said. "So we decided to abort and it was the hardest decision that a mother has to make."

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