Sunday, January 26

Separated twins in better condition, more alert

Formerly conjoined twins Maria Teresa and Maria de Jesus Quiej
Alvarez remain in serious condition, an upgrade from critical
condition they were in after the separation surgery.

Despite a three-hour surgical procedure on Friday, Aug. 16, just
a day after the upgrade, Maria Teresa’s vital signs are
stable as she recovers in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the
UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

After tests showed a bacterial infection in the lining of Maria
Teresa’s brain, Dr. Jorge Lazareff, director of pediatric
neurosurgery, led doctors in draining blood from Maria
Teresa’s brain which could be contributing to the
infection’s growth.

The blood was remaining from a subdural hematoma, or build-up of
blood in the brain, that occurred during the 23-hour separation
surgery on Aug. 6. Doctors had removed the hematoma during a
five-hour procedure following the initial separation surgery.

Maria Teresa is breathing with the help of a ventilator and
“remains under moderate sedation but is growing more
alert,” according to a medical center statement.

Maria de Jesus, who has not required any follow-up surgery, is
now feeding from a baby bottle and eating standard baby food. Her
breathing tube was removed on Aug. 13, and she continues to breathe
on her own. She is “alert and active,” according to the

The twins were brought to UCLA from their home in Guatemala in
June through Healing the Children, a non-profit organization that
helps find medical help for children in developing nations.

The 13-month-old girls were connected at the head, sharing veins
and part of their skull, but having separate brains.

Where their skulls were connected, the twins are now missing
bone. One option doctors are considering is covering the area with
a layer of bone sliced from the existing skull.

Doctors remain cautiously optimistic about the long-term
prospects of the girls’ recovery.

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