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2-year-old conjoined twin girls to be separated Tuesday

Surgery to separate toddlers joined at chest is expected to take 20 hours. KNTV's Marianne Favro reports.

 

Two-year-old Angelica and Angelina Sabuco love Dora the Explorer, Elmo, and listening to stories and music. They also know their colors and can count to 10. But one important distinction keeps them from being typical toddlers - they're conjoined twins.

But on Tuesday, an operation is planned to give them a chance to be able to live independently from each other for the first time.

The surgery will take place at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Northern California, reported KNTV's Marianne Favro. 

The sisters are joined at their chest and abdomens, according to the hospital. Their livers, diaphragms, sterni (breast bones), chest and abdominal wall muscles are fused.  They have separate hearts, brains, kidneys, stomachs and intestines.

Dividing the girls' single liver will be "probably the greatest risk of the procedure," said Dr. Gary Hartman is the lead surgeon. "About a quarter of our blood goes through our liver every single minute."

At least 20 people will be in the operating room during the surgery to separate the girls, who were born in the Philippines and live in San Jose with their parents and 10-year-old brother.

Hartman has performed five surgeries to separate conjoined twins -- more than any other surgeon in the United States. He expects the twins to survive and do well, reports the Associated Press.