Twins Jadon and Anias McDonald have spent the first 13 months of their lives joined at the head — until today. In the early hours of this morning, after over 16 hours of surgery, the two boys were separated.
Nicole and Christian, the twins' parents, made the gut-wrenching decision to finally separate the boys completely, as statistics report that "80 percent of twins joined at the head die of medical complications by the age of two if not separated." Over the last year, Jadon and Anias have undergone three operations to clip blood vessels and separate more of their brain each time, all leading up to the final surgery to separate them completely.
The surgery was led by Dr. James Goodrich, who specializes in craniopagus surgery — involving twins who are fused at the cranium — at Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Jadon and Anias mark his seventh separation surgery, which was also the longest and toughest case he's ever encountered. After finally separating the boys around 3 a.m. Friday morning, Dr. Goodrich "plopped into an armchair" next to Nicole and told her, "Well, we did it."
After their conversation, she took to Facebook to update friends and family on the boys' status, which remains fairly unknown:
I should feel so happy . . . TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!! And yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future. I didn't cry until the surgeons left the room. I was barely able to even utter the words "thank you" because of the pit that still sits heavy in my stomach. We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown. The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks. . . . The plan is to keep them both intubated to get through the swelling and pain of the first week and then go from there. So we just took a huge leap of faith, but now we are back to taking baby steps. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm still frozen in space and time . . . in the smiles of yesterday morning. I'll be hanging out there until I see those smiles again.
Since Nicole's first post, Jadon has come out of surgery, and the family was told that Anias would be another couple of hours. Around 10:15 a.m., Nicole informed followers: "They had to reopen Anias' incision. He's still in surgery. No idea how much longer it will be. My heart aches for him all alone down there without his brother. Such a scary time to be alone."