MELBOURNE, Australia – An aid worker who helped bring formerly conjoined Bangladeshi twins to Australia where doctors managed to separate them spoke of her relief Wednesday over their successful surgery, as the girls remained in serious but stable condition.
Danielle Noble, who first met Trishna and Krishna in an orphanage in Bangladesh in 2007 when they were only a month old, said she cried Tuesday after learning from a televised news report that surgeons had successfully separated the girls, who were born joined at their heads.
"I watched as the doctor came out and said they had been separated — it was quite surreal, unbelievable," Noble said. "I shed a few tears — it's been really emotional. I feel connected to the girls, so it's been an emotional couple of days."
Trishna and Krishna, who turn 3 next month, shared a section of skull, blood vessels and brain tissue. They were separated Tuesday after 25 hours of delicate surgery and reconstruction by a team of 16 surgeons and nurses.
It is too early to know whether the girls suffered any brain damage during the marathon operation — an outcome doctors said was a 50-50 chance. The girls will remain in an induced coma for monitoring for several days.
Leo Donnan, chief of surgery at Royal Children's Hospital, said the girls are in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit.
Andrew Greensmith, a plastic and maxillofacial surgeon from New Zealand, called the surgery painstaking and remarkable.
Greensmith was holding the girls' heads at the final moment of separation, when the beds were pushed apart millimeter by millimeter.
"It was quite bizarre to see them apart for a change ... quite surreal," Greensmith told New Zealand radio network NewstalkZB.
He said the surgery went smoothly.
"We were prepared for potentially catastrophic things happening at some point, major bleeding which we may have trouble stopping, all sorts of possibilities," he said. "But we had none of that at all."
Noble had been volunteering at the orphanage when she spotted the girls nearly three years ago. She said she began contacting hospitals in Australia to see if they could help, but a lack of medical equipment in Bangladesh meant there was no way to test whether the twins could be separated.
She eventually got in touch with a representative of the Children First Foundation, which then brought the girls to Australia.
Noble, 27, now works for the United Nations in Bangkok but is vacationing in Australia and hopes to visit the twins this weekend.
"I might be idealistic, but I had this feeling that this was going to work, that this would be a positive outcome," she said. "In those days at the orphanage, no one would have given them more than a one or two percent chance of surviving. The whole way through this they have fought against the odds."