A talented doctor from the UK has successfully separated Brazilian twins who were born with fused brains.
Thanks to paediatric surgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani of Great Ormond Street Hospital, three-year-olds Bernardo and Arthur Lima are no longer conjoined with fused brains.
They are now the oldest set of craniopagus twins with a fused brain to have ever been safely separated.
The operation was one of the most complicated ever undertaken, according to Gemini Untwined, the nonprofit created by Jeelani in 2018 that funded the historic “virtual reality” surgery.
The surgeon explained that the advanced procedure was made even more difficult by prior unsuccessful attempts to separate the conjoined twins, which meant their anatomy was complicated by scar tissue.
Jeelani said that it was the first time ever that doctors wearing headsets from different nations performed an operation in the same “virtual reality room,” which he called “space-age stuff.”
“It’s just wonderful, it’s really great to see the anatomy and do the surgery before you actually put the children at any risk,” Jeelani said, speaking about using virtual reality,
“You can imagine how reassuring that is for the surgeons. In some ways these operations are considered the hardest of our time, and to do it in virtual reality was just really man-on-Mars stuff.”
Following the procedure, Jeelani remarked that while he was “absolutely shattered,” he was indeed “over the moon” happy for the family. “There were a lot of tears and hugs,” he said. “It was wonderful to be able to help them on this journey.”
Jeelani later confirmed that the boys are recovering well and expected to make a full recovery.
“Since the parents of the boys came from their home in the Roraima region to Rio to seek our help two-and-a-half years ago, they had become part of our family here in the hospital,” said Dr. Gabriel Mufarrej, director of pediatric surgery at Brazil’s Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer, who co-led the procedure with Jeelani.
“We are delighted that the surgery went so well and the boys and their family have had such a life-changing outcome.”
“The successful separation of Bernardo and Arthur is a remarkable achievement by the team in Rio and a fantastic example of why the work of Gemini Untwined is so valuable,” added Jeelani.
“Not only have we provided a new future for the boys and their family, we have equipped the local team with the capabilities and confidence to undertake such complex work successfully again in the future,” Jeelani continued.
“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.”
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