Nine-month-old twins, who were born conjoined at the head, have been separated in a successful surgery.
The baby girls, Abigail and Micaela Bachinskiy, underwent the 24 hour surgery at UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, California, where surgeons divided large veins and brain matter that connected the twins and then reconstructed their skulls, according to a news release from the hospital.
Abigail and Micaela's progress was documented by their mum, 33-year-old Liliya Miroshnik on Instagram. She and her husband, Anatoliy, learned their daughters were conjoined at the head at 11-weeks, meaning they were born with their skulls fused; sharing some brain tissue but having separate brains.
"Conjoined twins are already extremely rare, but craniopagus twins are even more so," read the UC Davis Children's Hospital's press release.
"Only two percent of conjoined twins are born fused at the head. Craniopagus twins occur in approximately one in every two-and-a-half million births."
The surgical team spent months preparing for the surgery, tracking their growth through MRI's and CT scans and placing tissue expanders under the skin of the girls' heads to encourage more skin to grow so they can cover their skulls after the separation. Chief of plastic surgery Granger Wong explaining "as they get older, there are more risks of shared blood vessels and organs becoming larger or more entwined."
The team prepared for the surgery by using 3D models to practice for the operation.
More than 30 surgeons took part in the mammoth surgery, divided into teams dedicated to each twin. Team Purple took care of Micaela, while Team Orange cared for Abigail; wearing colourful surgical caps in either purple or orange for easy visibility in the operating room. Surgical residents wore grey caps and could assist with either girl. Wong described the surgery as "a choreographed ballet" successfully separating the girls at 3.28am, in a "landmark" surgery for the hospital.
Abigail and Micaela are still in the hospital with no release date, but according to their parents are doing well.
"The doctors are really happy with how they are recovering," Ms Miroshnik told TODAY Health. "They are just responding. They are screaming for mamma and daddy. They really recognise our faces. It's just awesome."
The surgical team after the surgery. Photo: UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento
When the girls are released, they'll join three older brothers at home.
"I'm still getting used to it," said the twins' dad. "It's not easy honestly, but we are really happy. This has been a long time coming, so we are really happy."