Bhutanese conjoined twins separated at Australian hospital

Nima and Dawa were known to share a liver but could also share part of the bowel which would complicate the surgery

The pair were joined at the torso and shared a liver, but turned out not to share part of their bowel, as the doctors once believed.

Surgeons have successfully separated conjoined Bhutanese twins Nima and Dawa after a six-hour operation in Melbourne.

Nima and Dawa, two 15-month-old girls, shared a liver and were joined from the lower chest to just above the pelvis.

It took a team of four surgeons and 18 other employees from Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital six hours to split up the girls, which was actually faster than the team expected.

Images shared by the Royal Children's Hospital show the girls lying on separate beds for the first time in their short lives.

"The positioning makes it hard for surgeons Joe Crameri, Tom Clarnette and Michael Nightingale, who are charged with separating the gilrs' shared liver, crossed over bowels and any other internal organs", it states.

The girls were brought to Australia with their mother from Bhutan in October.

The operation had previously been postponed after last-minute checks revealed the sisters were not ready.

Crameri said the babies are now recovering "well" and breathing independently.

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He said the next 24 to 48 hours would be critical to their recovery, but was optimistic about the outcome.

The state of Victoria has offered to cover the $255,000 cost of the operation.

If so it would also be divided, he said, and "our challenge will be to reconstruct their abdominal walls to close it over".

Their mother Bhumchu Zangmo was understandably nervous before the operation, but spent today praying and meditating at a Buddhist temple.

"We feel quietly confident that we will have a good result and that is what I have just told mum upstairs".

"Currently the girls are in recovery", Crameri told reporters after the surgery, adding that the girls had coped well with the operation and that there hadn't been any major surprises throughout.

Conjoined twins are very rare - it is thought one in every 200,000 births - and around 40-60% of these births are delivered stillborn.

On Thursday afternoon, the twins travelled to Melbourne from Kilmore, where they have been staying at the country retreat of the Children First Foundation.

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