OKLAHOMA CITY – Conjoined twins who were born in Oklahoma City may be surgically separated as early as late January, a pediatric surgeon said.
Presless Faith Wells and Kylee Hope Wells have doubled their weights in the past two weeks and appear to have separate and functioning hearts, Dr. David Tuggle said. They have grown to a combined weight of 12 pounds.
"They both have strong hearts and good blood pressure," Tuggle said, and are breathing on their own without a ventilator.
The girls, believed to be the first known Native American conjoined twins, were born Oct. 25 at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. They remained in intensive care at the hospital on Thursday.
The babies' hearts are connected on their surfaces and they have fused rib cages and separate livers connected by a bridge of tissue. If they don't share any major blood vessels, that would be a "best-case scenario" for separation of such twins, which are called thoracopagus twins, Tuggle said.
The girls are the first conjoined twins born in Oklahoma in 22 years. Tuggle was part of the team that separated twins who were born two decades ago and are now healthy young women.
Separation surgery for the Wells twins, the daughters of 21-year-old Kyle Wells and 20-year-old Stevie Stewart of Calumet, could be done in late January after further tests or sooner if the girls' health suddenly declines.
The surgery likely would take about four hours and might be followed up with reconstructive procedures down the road, Tuggle said.
"They've got a very good chance of survival," Tuggle said.
The girls' mother has mastered caring for the conjoined twins, who face each other and often embrace, the doctor said.
"I saw them this morning, and she was holding them," Tuggle said. "She's got it down. She's just doing exceptionally well."