Twins born with skulls fused together separated in delicate 50hr operation
Twin sisters born with their skulls and blood vessels fused together have incredibly been separated following complex surgery in London.
Two-year-old conjoined twins Safa and Marwa Ullah defied the odds to survive childbirth and underwent three major operations.
Medics at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) inserted a layer of plastic into their heads to keep their brains and blood vessels apart during the final procedure earlier this year.
The sisters, born in Pakistan, have finally left hospital, and mum Zainab Bibi said she is excited about their future.
Around 40% of twins joined at the head are stillborn or die in childbirth, while a third more die within 24 hours.
After hearing of Safa and Marwa's plight, a generous donor - who asked to be anonymous - stepped forward to pay for the surgery.
The operations took more than 50 hours and involved 100 staff at the world famous London hospital.
The girls' mum, Zainab Bibi, 34, said: "We are indebted to the hospital and to the staff and we would like to thank them for everything they have done.
"We are extremely excited about the future."
Their father has died, the hospital said today.
The first operation was carried out in October last year, when Safa and Marwa were 19 months old, and the final procedure happened in February.
Surgeons used 3D printing to create plastic models of the girls' skulls so they could practice, and virtual reality was used to create an exact replica of the girls' anatomy.
During the surgery, doctors separated the twins' blood vessels and inserted a piece of plastic into their heads.
The final major operation involved medics building new skulls using the girls' own bone.
They also used tissue expanders to ensure their skin would stretch over the top of each of their heads.
Safa and Marwa are now having daily physiotherapy after being discharged this month, and are living in London with their mum, grandfather Mohammad Sadat, 57, and an uncle.
Neurosurgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani said: "We are delighted we have been able to help Safa and Marwa and their family.
"It has been a long and complex journey for them, and for the clinical team looking after them.
"From our personal point of view, it has been great to get to know the girls and their family.
"Their faith and determination have been so important in getting them through the challenges they have faced. We are incredibly proud of them.
"We are also incredibly proud of the Gosh team responsible for their treatment and care over the past 10 months."
Cecelia Carney, team leader of Gosh's neurosurgery theatre, said: "The intricacies of the series of surgical procedures were planned meticulously as a team."
Conjoined twins are very rare - affecting only about one in every 2.5 million births - and only 5% of these are joined at the head.Which body part do you wish you could detach temporarily and why?
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