- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Mayo Clinic surgeons separated 5-month-old twins born joined at the chest and abdomen, continuing the delicate and lengthy operation last night.

The last tissue connecting Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen was cut about 4:30 p.m., and doctors moved on to reconstructive surgery expected to take several more hours.

Mayo Clinic spokesman Lee Aase said Isabelle was moved to a separate table in the operating room where surgeons were reconstructing her abdomen and closing up the surgical wound. He did not give any specific information about Abbigail.

“The family is elated,” he said, saying that they were happy to have separate babies.

The girls’ livers were intertwined and they also were joined at the diaphragm and the pancreas, and shared part of an intestine.

Doctors said that the surgery was complicated but that there was a 90 percent to 95 percent chance that both girls would survive.

“We wouldn’t be going ahead if we weren’t confident that there was a good chance for a good outcome,” Dr. Christopher Moir, a pediatric surgeon heading the medical team, said last month. “But these little girls, unfortunately, have a very complex conjoined system.”

A medical team of about 30 people took part in the operation. The girls’ parents, Amy and Jesse Carlsen of Fargo, N.D., helped take them to the operating room shortly after sunrise.

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