Twin dies in operation to separate sisters

Hope's lungs prove too weak to support breathing but Faith survives

After one of the most difficult operations attempted on conjoined twins in Britain, surgeons have succeeded in saving only one of them.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, where the operation took place, said surgeons had worked for 11 hours on Monday to separate the Williams sisters, Hope and Faith but Hope's lungs had proved too small to support her breathing.

The operation began on Monday morning and was complete by 7pm but details of the outcome were not released until yesterday. Hope died on Monday evening, before the surgery was complete but the announcement was delayed because doctors feared Faith might not survive the night.

Hope's death was not unexpected; as the smaller of the two, her lungs were weak. The surgeons had wanted to delay the operation to give her a chance to gain strength but a blockage in their joined intestine caused a "sudden deterioration" in the twins' health.

Professor Agostino Pierro, who led the team of surgeons, said it was "one of the most complex and challenging" operations the team had faced.

The twins were joined from the breast bone to the navel and shared a liver. They had separate hearts and lungs and four limbs each, but their blood vessels, and hence their circulatory systems, were linked.

Separating the blood vessels and joining them up again so that each twin had her own circulatory system was the biggest challenge and accounted for the length and complexity of the operation.

The twins' parents, Laura Williams, 18, and her husband Aled, 28, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, were present at the hospital for the operation.

They were taken to see Hope after she had been separated from her sister. She was on a ventilator and died in their presence.

"This was an emergency operation because there was a blockage in their joined intestine which could only be resolved through separation," Professor Pierro said.

"The technical surgery worked well, although it was extremely challenging, and went according to plan.

"However, very sadly, after separation, baby Hope's lungs proved too small to support her breathing and she died last night in the presence of her parents. They are clearly devastated by the loss of their daughter and we offer them our deepest condolences on their loss.

"Baby Faith is stable after separation. She requires support for her breathing but she is gradually improving. However, it is early days and complications can occur."

The next days will prove crucial for Faith, whose abdomen was left open after the separation. Her condition is likely to fluctuate hourly, as with all babies treated in intensive care.

She will be monitored around the clock by teams of doctors and nurses who will adjust her drugs and fluids according to how she responds. Professor Pierro said: "If everything goes well, there will be more surgery required to close her tummy but I can't tell you now when the surgery will happen. It's fair to say the operation done on Hope and Faith was one of the most complex and challenging we have ever faced."

A risky business: The dangers of surgically separating twins

*Seperating conjoined twins is always a risky procedure, depending on how many organs are shared. Some cases are inoperable.

Experience at Great Ormond Street shows that where the separation is performed as an emergency, one in four babies survives.

Where it is planned, the survival rate rises to 80 per cent. The operation on the Williams sisters was a planned procedure brought forward 24 hours.

Each twin had a heart defect, their circulatory systems were intertwined and they were so premature that their single liver was not easy to divide.

Although the operation was a technical success, as often in these cases it was impossible to tell how the twins would fare after separation.

The surgeon, Edward Kiely, who operated on the twins with Professor Angelino Pierro, is the most experienced in the country, having treated 16 previous cases.

A spokesman for Great Ormond Street said the team hoped to save both twins but Hope had started out the weaker of the two. "Having separated them, you never know how the circulation will work. They were saddened but not surprised by Hope's death," he said.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum