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First set of conjoined twins separated at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

Apr. 8, 2009, 4:55 PM

Tuesday morning, surgeons at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt successfully completed the hospital’s first separation of conjoined twins.

Keylee Ann and Zoey Marie Miller were born Jan. 4, in Johnson City, Tenn., and were immediately transferred via LifeFlight helicopter to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. Together, they weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces. The twins were cared for in the NICU for the last three months until they grew strong enough for Tuesday’s separation surgery.

The surgery lasted 8 hours. As expected after such a complex procedure, Keylee and Zoey are in critical condition tonight. Their parents, Victoria Ford and her husband, Brian Miller, are happy and optimistic about the prognosis for their daughters, but are asking for privacy while the babies recover from the procedure. (Click here for a short blog from a camera crew that witnessed the surgery.)

Further details about the surgery will be made available later.

While several sets of conjoined have previously been treated at Vanderbilt, this is the first separation surgery performed here. The large team caring for the babies during their first three months consisted of dozens of physicians, nurses and staff from many departments at Children’s Hospital.

Ford and Miller knew early in the pregnancy that the twins were conjoined. They had hoped to carry them to term, but when Zoey and Keylee got into fetal distress in early January, a Cesarean section was performed and the girls were born 10 weeks early.

The girls are “omphalopagus” twins, fused from the lower breastbone to the naval. They shared a liver and were born with one umbilical cord.

Conjoined twins are identical twins who develop from the same fertilized egg. Their bodies are joined while in the uterus. In the United States the incidence for conjoined twins is 1 per 200,000 live births.

Media Contact: Laurie E. Holloway, (615) 322-4747

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