Conjoined twins flown to Melbourne for surgery successfully separated

The twins flew to Australia last month for the groundbreaking operation. Source 7NewsMore

The twins flew to Australia last month for the groundbreaking operation. Source 7NewsMore

Australian surgeons began operating early Friday to separate 15-month-old Bhutanese twins joined at the torso.

A team of 18 surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists were involved in the procedure.

The sisters, who were brought to Australia with their mother in October, are joined at the torso and share a liver.

Doctors said they were confident the twins were now ready for the operation.

It is expected the girls will spend about a month in hospital following the surgery and Dr Sherub previously told The Age that they may take time to catch up with some of their milestones.

Conjoined twins are very rare - it is thought one in every 200,000 births - and around 40-60% of these births are delivered stillborn. The bowel is known to be mixed, but Crameri said doctors don't yet know if the girls have separate bowels sitting next to one another or if the organ is shared between them.

Nima and Dawa had grown facing each other, and could not sit down together.

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Dr Sherub first met the girls when they were only a day old and played a major role in getting the twins to Australia, having already spent time in the country as the victor of a medical scholarship.

About 18 people were in the operating theatre - including Bhutanase paediatric surgeon Dr Karma Sherub, who flew into Melbourne this week.

The family was brought to Australia from Bhutan by Children First Foundation, an Australian-based charity.

Elizabeth Lodge, from the charity, said Ms Zangmo had felt "a little bit scared", but had shown "extraordinary calmness" before the procedure.

She spent Friday praying and meditating.

The procedure and recovery are expected to cost at least $350,000 and the state government has offered to pay the bill.

Doctors successfully divided the twins' liver.

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