Mum left 'happy' and 'confused' by her conjoined twins separation

Now separated twins healthy and cheeky

The medical team that are looking after the previously conjoined twins describes the twins as cheeky with healthy temperatures.

The first time Bhumchu Zangmo laid eyes on her twin daughters after their surgical separation, she couldn’t tell them apart.

For 15 months Nima and Dawa Pelden had been joined at the chest, sharing a liver and the entirety of their lives.

The sight of them lying in separate beds in the intensive care unit was suddenly disorientating.

Nima and Dawa separated at last - with their mother Bhumchu Zangmo.
Nima and Dawa separated at last - with their mother Bhumchu Zangmo. Photo: Eddie Jim

“She was confused. They had their position earlier,” explained Tshewang Choden, a Bhutanese nurse travelling with the family.

“We had to ask the nurses and doctors out there [which twin was which].”

Five days after the surgery, the twins are rapidly recovering in a ward of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

On Wednesday, The Age was invited to meet them.

Although now physically separated after a six-hour operation, the bond between the sisters remains intense and visible to all that meet them.

Lying in their cot, in a slightly grizzly mood, they remained touching at all times, their legs and feet together, as carers tried to boost their mood with toys and music.


Bedside nurse Rebecca Lyons said when Nima felt ill Dawa patted her head to comfort her, and on the odd occasion the pair were physically apart, they would search each other out.

“Even at night, if we separate them, they do a bit of bum shuffle back together,” Ms Lyons said.

“Or they will just cry until you put them back closer together.”

Nima and Dawa with their mother before their operation on Friday.
Nima and Dawa with their mother before their operation on Friday. Photo: Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

The medical team caring for the identical twins have been pleasantly surprised by the speed of their recovery.

The surgery on Friday was the best-case scenario for surgeons, who were able to separate the girls’ liver without any major bleeding and found no significant attachments at their bowel, which they had feared may have been joined.

For days the Royal Children’s Hospital has been reporting that the pair has been in a stable condition.

Dawa, previously described as the less-dominant twin, has also emerged from the surgery with more vigour.

“Dawa is more active at the moment,” Ms Lyons said.

“She almost crawled off the bed the other day [and] she is eating more and moving more than Nima.

“I think they have done way better than expected. They have progressed really quickly.”

The girls’ mother said seeing Nima and Dawa separated for the first time elicited happiness that she could not express in words.

Asked what her wish was for her daughters' recovery she said: “I hope that the girls can walk around like other children.”