Monday, June 21, 2004


Four-month-old twins separated in surgery at Children’s Hospital in the District during the weekend likely can look forward to normal lives, doctors said yesterday.

Twins Erin and Jade Buckles of Woodbridge, Va., remained in critical but stable condition yesterday, but doctors said they were satisfied with the girls’ progress.

Dr. Gary Hartman, the lead surgeon, said the twins probably will be taken off ventilators within a week to 10 days.

Parents Kevin and Melissa Buckles, who appeared at a press conference with doctors, were elated by the twins’ prognosis and said they were looking forward to life returning to normal.

The father, a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, said he hoped one day to tell the girls what had happened.

“We won’t make a big hoopla out of this. We’ll tell them what happened, we’ll show them the pictures, and then we’ll move on,” Sgt. Buckles said.

Jade and Erin had been joined from their chests to their abdomens. They were born Feb. 26, about six weeks early, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

The girls shared a liver, and one of the babies’ hearts rested horizontally, protruding into the other girl’s chest cavity.

Surgery to separate them took six hours Saturday and left the girls with a 14-centimeter incision from chest to abdomen. The surgery, which was delayed for a week so the girls could grow more skin to close the surgical openings, had been expected to last 10 hours.

The Buckles also have an 11-year-old son, Kevin Jr., and a 2-year-old daughter, Taylor.

Conjoined twins occur about once in every 200,000 live births.

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