Conjoined identical twin girls released from Texas Children’s Hospital

HOUSTON --Anna Grace and Hope Elizabeth Richards are making their debut as individuals after almost two years of living as conjoined twins.

The two toddlers were released from Texas Children's Hospital Friday after being successfully separated at Texas Children’s Hospital  on Jan. 13.

A multidisciplinary team of nearly 75 surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists and nurses from eight specialties performed the seven-hour procedure.

“The success of this incredibly complex surgery was the result of our dedicated team members’ hard work throughout the last year,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, surgeon-in-chief and chief of plastic surgery at Texas Children’s. “Through simulations and countless planning meetings, we were able to prepare for situations that could arise during the separation. We are thrilled with the outcome and look forward to continuing to care for Anna and Hope as they recover.”

The Richards family is grateful to Texas Children’s for the care provided to their daughters since they found out they were expecting conjoined twins.

“We’ve thought about and prayed for this day for almost two years,” said the girls’ mom, Jill Richards. “It’s an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds. We couldn’t be more thankful to the entire team at Texas Children’s for making this dream come true.”

[PHOTOS: Twin girls pre- and post-operation]

Photo courtesy: Paul Vincent Kuntz and Allen S. Kramer/Texas Children’s Hospital

In preparation for separation, on Nov. 6, 2017, Anna and Hope underwent surgery to place tissue expanders in order to allow their skin to grow and stretch.

The girls were born on Dec. 29, 2016 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, weighing a combined 9 lbs. 12 oz. Delivered via Caesarean-section at 35 weeks and five days gestation, Anna and Hope were conjoined at their chest and abdomen, through the length of their torso and shared the chest wall, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm and liver. In addition, they had a large blood vessel connecting their hearts. They were welcomed by their parents, Jill and Michael, and older brothers Collin and Seth.

The Richards family, from North Texas, learned Jill was carrying conjoined twins during a routine ultrasound. The family was then referred to Texas Children's Fetal Center, where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care. They temporarily relocated to Houston in order to deliver at Texas Children’s and be close to the girls during their hospital stay. For the past year, Anna and Hope have been cared for by a team of specialists in the level IV and level II neonatal intensive care units (NICU).

[PHOTOS: Journey to separation]

Photo courtesy: Paul Vincent Kuntz and Allen S. Kramer/Texas Children’s Hospital