On their own now: separated twins are recovering nicely

Courtesy of Packard ChildrenÂ’s Hospital

Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias with their mother, Maria, recuperating after their separation surgery.

Formerly conjoined Costa Rican twins Yurelia and Fiorella Rocha-Arias are continuing to recover from their Nov. 12 separation surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Yurelia was released from the hospital's cardiovascular intensive care unit on Nov. 27 and moved to a regular hospital room. Fiorella is expected to join her by the end of the week.

"Everyone's thrilled that they're progressing so well," said Gail Wright, MD, cardiovascular intensive care physician. "Moving out of intensive care is a very big step."

Fiorella's recovery lags slightly behind her sister's because she returned to surgery on Nov. 19 for a brief modification of her chest reconstruction and repair of her skin closure. She also needs a couple more days for her respiratory issues to completely clear. Yurelia's last surgery occurred on Nov. 14 when her life-threatening congenital heart anomaly known as double outlet right ventricle was corrected by Frank Hanley, MD, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.

The twins' progress has been closely monitored by a multidisciplinary team of specialists in the hospital's cardiovascular intensive care and pediatric intensive care units. "We are all upbeat about the girls' futures," said Wright. Additionally, physical and occupational therapists are working with Yurelia and Fiorella to help the girls strengthen their muscles, adjust to life apart and learn how to walk.

"All in all, there really have been very few surprises in this case and the girls' recovery is on track," said Gary Hartman, MD. Hartman was the lead surgeon during the Nov. 12 separation surgery, which involved nursing, anesthesia, cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric general surgery, plastic surgery, cardiac bypass and others. "Basically every discipline in the hospital has been involved with the girls and their care."

"Thank you to everyone at the hospital helping our children," said the twins' mom, Maria Elizabeth Arias, who, along with dad Jose Luis, is keeping a daily bedside vigil with the girls. "We so appreciate the thoughts, prayers and support of the people here and in Costa Rica."