‘Without them we wouldn’t be here’: 19-year-old conjoined twins reunite with medical staff who separated them in life-saving surgery nearly two decades ago
- Erin and Jade Buckles, from Virginia, were born connected from chest to navel
- They underwent successful surgery at Children’s National Hospital in 2004
- The sisters found the doctors who gave them new life
Former conjoined twins have reunited with the medical staff who separated them as babies nearly 19 years ago.
Erin and Jade Buckles, 19, born in Woodbridge, Va., were born connected from the middle of their chest to their navel.
The sisters shared a diaphragm with doctors who were unsure if they would be able to breathe on their own – but the duo underwent successful surgery at Children’s National Hospital in 2004.
They have now returned to find the doctors who have given them both new lives.
Erin and Jade Buckles, born in Woodbridge, Va., were born connected from mid-chest to navel
The sisters (pictured centre) have now returned to reunite with the doctors who have given them both new life.
Erin and Jade underwent separation surgery shortly after birth with an elite team of two dozen specialists involved in the ‘risky’ procedure
Erin and Jade underwent separation surgery shortly after birth with an elite team of two dozen specialists involved in the ‘risky’ procedure.
Reflecting on the operation, mum Melissa said hello america: ‘It was very hard. We didn’t know when they were born if they would be able to survive.
But the surgery was a success and the girls have now returned 19 years later to show their appreciation.
The duo, who are now both at university, were filmed as they entered the room full of staff members who had helped during the operation.
Erin told the publication, “If it wasn’t for the people [at Children’s National Hospital], we wouldn’t be there at all. I think about it a lot.
Jade, who is using a wheelchair following a stroke at the time of the procedure, added that she had “thought about what life would be like” if they were still married.
“I don’t know how it would have really been possible to live a life like that,” she said.
The girls are both avid athletes now – with the Jade running track and playing field hockey with Erin pursuing her basketball interests on a wheelchair team.
Reflecting on the operation, mum Melissa told Good Morning America: ‘It was very difficult. We didn’t know when they were born if they would be able to survive’
The girls are now both avid athletes – with Jade (left) on the running track and playing field hockey with Erin (right) pursuing her basketball interests on a wheelchair team.
Plastic surgeon Dr Michael Boyajian told the publication: ‘It was an emotional day. And seeing them years later… that’s very important to me.
Their dad, Kevin Buckles, also told the publication that he was “excited for the girls to see the team that helped them start a new life by breaking them apart and giving them their own bodies to go out and conquer life. “.
“They’ve overcome so much, but they’re just starting their lives right now. We’re excited to see what this next chapter has in store for both of them.
What are Siamese twins?
Conjoined twins occur when siblings have their skin or internal organs fused together.
It affects approximately one in 200,000 births.
Conjoined twins are caused by a fertilized egg that begins to divide into two embryos a few weeks after conception, but the process stops before it is complete.
The most common type is twins joined at the chest or abdomen.
The success of separation surgery depends on where the twins are joined.
Doctors cannot tell which organs the siblings share, and therefore plan surgery, after they are born.
At least one twin survives 75% of the time.
The most famous set of conjoined twins were Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in 1811 and traveled with PT Barnum’s circus. They were born in Siam and were known as conjoined twins.
Source: University of Maryland Medical Center