Surgical Team Leads Historical Conjoined Twins Surgery

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 2/25/2015, 11:35 a.m.
During the early morning hours of February 17, Elysse Mata sat holding her babies tightly, kissing them as tears ran ...
Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata get kissed by their mother.

Mata conjoined twins successfully separated in complex, first-of-its-kind surgery

During the early morning hours of February 17, Elysse Mata sat holding her babies tightly, kissing them as tears ran down her face. She was saying goodbye to her girls, conjoined for the last time before undergoing a historic surgery that would offer them their first chance at separate lives.

Eighteen hours into the surgery, parents Eric and Elysse heard the answer to months of prayers -- their twins had been successfully separated.

Watch this video from the Today Show highlighting the surgery.

Today Show

Surgery successfully separates conjoined twin

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

For the first 10 months of their lives, Knatalye and Adeline Mata were as close as sisters can be.

Conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata – known by their family simply as Hope and Faith – were born at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women at 31 weeks gestation. The babies each weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces.

A team of more than 26 clinicians -- 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses -- worked together to separate the girls who shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. During the complex surgery, the team worked for approximately 23 hours on Knatalye and 26 hours on Adeline with the official separation occurring approximately 18 hours into the surgery.

"This is the first time a separation surgery for twins with this particular configuration has been successful," said Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon, co-director of Texas Children's Fetal Center and associate professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. "The surgery was not without its challenges with the girls sharing several organ systems. Our team has been preparing for this for months, and we’ve done everything from working with our radiology experts to build a 3-D model of their organs to conducting simulations of the actual separation surgery."

A multidisciplinary team is currently caring for the girls in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where it is expected they will continue to recover for a couple of months. It is anticipated they will undergo additional surgeries in the future.

"We are so grateful to all of the surgeons and everyone who cared for our daughters and gave them the incredible chance to live separate lives," said Elysse.

Support from friends like you help make stories like this a reality. Thank you for all you do.

Additional coverage:

ABC Nightline News

US News Today

KHOU Channel 11

For more information about donating to help more babies visit https://waystogive.texaschildrens.org