Primary Children's Recognized for Conjoined Twin Success

Primary Children's Recognized for Conjoined Twin Success

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Ed Yeates ReportingThe New York neurosurgeon who captured the national spotlight by separating two conjoined Filipino boys had a message for a Utah doctor this week -- Thank you!

For more than six months last year everybody was talking about Clarence and Carl, identical twin boys from the Philippines who were joined at the head but then separated successfully in a series of methodical surgeries in New York.

James Goodrich, M.D./New York Neurosurgeon: "And both kids are thriving. The only interesting delays appear in speech where a lot is felt to be due to their first eighteen months where there were in total isolation. But if you sit and played with them, they're two almost normal acting three-year olds."

Dr. Goodrich and his team took separation surgery to a new level, using - for the first time - holographic images of the twins, created by a Utah company.

James Goodrich, M.D.: “It was awesome to be able to sit in an operating room with an image you could put your finger inside, and say, ‘This is where I want to go.’”

But holograms were only part of it. From New York City all the way to Salt Lake City, Dr. James Goodrich came here for a very special reason.”

It was Primary Children's Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Marion Walker who Goodrich turned to before he attempted the surgery.

James Goodrich, M.D.: “Salt Lake holds the world’s record. I mean, you’ve had three kids separated here and a world record, in a sense, three separations and six survivors.”

Instead of one massive surgery lasting 52 hours or longer, Dr. Goodrich followed a technique used three different times by his esteemed colleague in Salt Lake City. The most recent, the separation of Bessie and Doris Gonzales from Honduras.

James Goodrich, M.D.: “I’m talking to somebody who’s got six survivors. You have my attention. So the next thing I say, ‘How do you do it?’”

And do it he did - taking it easy, going slow, separating the Clarence and Carl methodically through a series of surgeries spanning weeks at a time, letting Nature, in between, heal on its own.

The payoff?

James Goodrich, M.D.: “Intellectually they look absolutely unimpaired. It’s just amazing.”

Goodrich and Walker say future separation surgeries will only get better. Twins are born conjoined in about 10 to 20 per million births. Those joined at the head are the rarest in the group.

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