Born joined at the head, Mooresville twins now sleep side-by-side after surgery

Parents Heather and Riley Delaney with their twins.
Parents Heather and Riley Delaney with their twins.

Surgeons in Philadelphia, in a rare procedure, have successfully separated 10-month-old conjoined twins from Mooresville who were joined at the top of their heads.

The 11-hour surgery on Erin and Abby Delaney took place June 6 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and announced this week. Their condition, called craniopagus, is the least common type of conjoined twins.

For the first time in their young lives, Erin and Abby now lie side by side in separate beds. Sometime later this year, parents Heather and Riley Delaney will bring them home for the first time.

“When we go home, it’s going to be a big party,” Heather Delaney said in a statement released by the hospital. “Welcome home, baby shower, first birthday.”

Neurosurgeon Gregory Heuer and plastic surgeon Jesse Taylor led a 30-member team in the surgery, which followed months of preparation. It was the 23rd time that surgeons at the hospital have separated conjoined twins, but the first craniopagus pair.

“Separating conjoined twins is a very complex surgery followed by a long and complicated recovery, but we are very hopeful for a positive outcome,” Taylor said. The twins are now in pediatric intensive care.

Their parents first learned that Heather Delaney was carrying conjoined twins about 11 weeks into her pregnancy, early in 2016. They traveled to the Philadelphia hospital for diagnostic tests a few weeks later, and Delaney returned for prenatal appointments every two weeks.

Erin and Abby Delaney before they were separated. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Abby and Erin were born in the hospital’s Special Delivery Unit by Caesarian section on July 24. They were born 10 weeks prematurely, each weighing two pounds and one ounce.

Physical, occupational and speech therapy teams developed innovative treatments and exercises for the infants in the following months, as they awaited surgery.

Surgeons, nutritionists, developmental pediatricians and other specialists will monitor their progress after surgery. The twins will also likely undergo one or more additional surgeries, the hospital said.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender