Surgeons say the hardest part is over. The Tucker twins, conjoined at birth, were separated last month. They have yet to see their North Country home in Adams, but they made their first public appearance Thursday at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Our Brian Dwyer made the trip to Philly, and has more on the incredible procedure the girls went through, a scare shortly after, and the work that still lies ahead.
PHILADELPHIA -- "We couldn't see the end in sight. I think it just felt like it was never going to end. That was the hardest part to get through this, when you didn't know," said Greg Tucker, the father of the twins.
After being told terminating the pregnancy would be the best option, and a second opinion saying surgery could work, Greg and Shellie Tucker describe their emotions as a roller coaster ride.
Conjoined twins happens to only one in 60,000 sets. They trusted the latter advice, from the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. Even before Allison and Amelia were born in March, the hospital began preps.
"We could check things out while they were still in the womb. Very detailed studies occurred. Then detailed studies occurred again after they were born. The radiologists nailed it. They got it right," said Dr. Holly Hedrick, attending surgeon.
Surgery to separate the girls on November 7th was a huge success. Two hours of anesthesia and pre-surgery prep involved teams assigned to each girl. Everything was color coordinated and organized. The surgery itself, a seven hour procedure, also teams for each girl.
Dr. Hedrick says the team at CHoP, came together perfectly.
"This is the kind of case that involves nearly every department within the hospital. It involves general surgery, child life, social work, nurses, plastic surgery, I'm going to forget somebody," said Dr. Hedrick.
"I remember looking back on it and it went by in the blink of an eye. It didn't seem like a long drawn out seven hours. We expected a lot longer and I think that helped," said Shellie Tucker, the mother of the twins.
While Allison has already been released to her parents and Amelia soon will, the job unfortunately isn't quite over with yet. These babies still have an awful lot of hard work to do.
"The physical therapy, the occupational, the speech. We have a lot of therapies we'll have to take them to and they'll need those to catch up, but for me that's the fun stuff because I can interact and help in the therapy also," said Shellie Tucker.
"Just things like sitting up, rolling over the things that babies are supposed to do at different time points, but those things are all rehab-able. They're making incredible progress," said Dr. Hedrick.
There was one minor scare shortly after the surgery, the girls in a very weakened state got sick. But again, Hedrick says the team just came together and got them through it, and now, it won't be long before they can finally come home.