- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) The parents of the surgically separated Guatemalan twins thanked the doctors and nurses yesterday who carried out the marathon, 22-hour operation, saying, "God will somehow repay them."
The 1-year-old girls once joined at the head remained in critical condition at the Medical Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"The future looks very bright now that the children are separated," the girls' father, Wenceslao Quiej Lopez, said through a Spanish interpreter as he and his wife, Alba Leticia Alvarez, 23, spoke to reporters for the first time since their daughters' skulls were separated.
The father, a 21-year-old banana picker, wondered how he could repay the doctors and nurses. "But God will somehow repay them," he added.
Healing the Children, a nonprofit group in Spokane, Wash., had arranged to bring the sisters from Guatemala for the $1.5 million operation. The UCLA doctors offered their services for free, but the hospital is seeking donations to help defray the other costs.
The girls, Maria Teresa and Maria de Jesus, were expected to use breathing tubes for days.
"They slept through the night under heavy sedation in the pediatric intensive care unit," spokesman Dan Page said. "There was nothing unexpected overnight."
Early Tuesday, after the operation, Maria Teresa was returned to surgery because of a buildup of blood on her brain. Nearly five hours later she was out of surgery again. Neurosurgeons said it would take a week to determine whether the girls suffered brain damage.
They were born attached at the top of the skull and faced opposite directions. While the two shared bone and blood vessels, they had separate brains. Cases such as theirs occur fewer than one in 2.5 million live births.

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