It took three agonising days, but then came the sound Moira Kelly had been waiting for – the sound of two-year-old Krishna blowing a raspberry.
The weaker of the Bangladeshi twins, born joined at the skull, woke up over the weekend, three days after the marathon surgery to separate them and a full day after her sister Trishna.
Ms Kelly – the twins' guardian – said she yelped for joy when Krishna came out of the medically induced coma and gave her own personalised sign that she had got through the 32-hour operation. The first raspberry was followed in quick succession by seven more.
"I'm smiling today and it's the only smile I've had in a week," said Ms Kelly, who has cared for the two girls since they arrived in Australia. "Krishna's woken up... and she is neurologically sound, which gives me shivers down my spine. There was," she admitted, "a bit of a sniffle down the phone" when she shared the news with the army of 16 surgeons who performed the operation at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital last week.
Trishna, the stronger twin who woke up first, had been reaching for her still-sleeping sister, according to Danielle Noble, the aid worker who helped bring the girls from Bangladesh. "Krishna made this yell and Trishna heard her, it was just beautiful to see," she said. "It wasn't just me telling her she's okay, she knows she's there."
Hospital staff said now both twins were awake they hoped to move the cots closer together so the girls could touch each other.
Initially, the tricky operation to separate the pair, who shared blood vessels and brain tissue, was only given a 25 per cent chance of complete success because their condition is the rarest example of conjoined twins. Now people are talking of miracles.
In Bangladesh, their impoverished 22-year-old mother who gave them up because she couldn't afford to look after them, said she was overjoyed. "No mother in the world could be as proud as me," Lovely Mallick told AFP. "I pray that they will be fully cured soon and lead normal lives. They will be educated and smart. I do want to see them."
She and Kartik Mallick, the twins' father, gave the girls to the Nirmola Missionary Child Centre in their home town Khulna. Trishna and Krishna were then transferred to a home in the capital Dhaka where Ms Noble, campaigned to get them to Australia.
"I can't describe the emotion of it, of walking in there and seeing two beautiful little girls in two beds," Ms Noble said yesterday.