Addison and Lilianna Altobelli are finally home resting after a ten-hour surgical procedure that separated the conjoined twins in a Philadelphia hospital late last year.
Affectionately known as Addy and Lily, the twins spent nearly a year in the intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after they were born conjoined at the abdomen and chest due to a rare condition known as thoraco-omphalopagus. The girls had shared a liver, diaphragm, chest and abdominal wall.
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Their parents Maggie and Dom Altobelli had assumed they were having one baby until their 20-week ultrasound that had detected the condition and showed two fetuses attached at the abdomen. The couple was then referred to CHOP for further evaluation and after further testing, doctors had determined the girls would be excellent candidates for separation as both twins had their own functioning hearts and a sizable shared liver. Addison and Lilianna were born on November 18, 2020 and spent 10 months after their birth in the intensive care unit at CHOP as surgeons prepared for the best approach at separating the twins. Then October 13, 2021, a surgical team involving more than two dozen specialists – which included surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and plastic surgeons – spent approximately 10 hours in surgery separating the girls. “To see them with their own bodies – their bodies were just so perfect – it was amazing,” Maggie gushed after the procedure. “It was just indescribable.”
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The twins finally flew home to Chicago after spending two more weeks at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Although both girls are still assisted by tracheostomy tubes to help with their breathing, doctors say Addy and Lily will eventually adjust to breathing on their own. Since 1957, CHOP has separated 28 pairs of conjoined twins, the most of any hospital in the country. Lead Surgeon Holly L. Hendrick, an attending pediatric and fetal surgeon in the Division of the Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery at CHOP, said “Separating conjoined twins is always a challenge because every single set of twins is unique, and they all have different challenges and anatomic considerations.” “The way our team works together, it’s really incredible and special, with so many people coming together to work toward a common goal,” she concluded. “Addy and Lily are doing well, and our hope is that they have full lives that are joyful.”