SANTIAGO: A Chilean medical team early Wednesday successfully separated 10-month-old twin girls joined at the chest and pelvis in a marathon surgery involving some 100 doctors and nurses.
The girls, Maria Paz and Maria Jose, are now "two completely different people," announced Francisco Ossandon, head of the medical team that conducted the extraordinarily complicated procedure.
"The separation was truly like (the girls) being born again. The parents are full of hope, happy," he added.
Surgery to separate the conjoined twins lasted more than 14 hours, and was followed by six more hours of work on each of the children, officials said.
In all, some 100 professionals working in rotating teams of 24 worked on the children at Santiago's Luis Calvo Mackenna Hospital.
The operation involved separating the thorax, liver, intestines and pelvis and then reconstruction of their organs and surrounding tissue.
Ossandon however warned that the first 48-72 hours after the procedure was crucial for their recovery, and that the children still had to undergo a third of the healing process.
Doctors said the risky procedure offered the possibility of normal lives for the tots, but also could have killed one or both of them.
The girls are stable, but "have kidney and lung failures," said Carlos Acuna, the head of the hospital's intensive care unit. Acuna said that their biggest risk was "a multisystem failure."
The girls are the daughters of a truck driver and a housewife from the southern town of Loncoche.
"My dream is to see them, each one on her own, without complications," their mother, Jessica Navarrete, said just before the surgery.
Health Minister Jaime Manalich, who visited the twins on Wednesday, said that the Chilean government is paying for the procedure, which hospital officials costs more than $200,000.
In 1993 two conjoined twin boys were separated successfully in the same hospital in an operation that lasted more than 10 hours. (AFP)