Formerly conjoined girls twins improving

By Tim Talley
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP) 4-09

Twin girls who were born conjoined at the chest are doing well 10 weeks after successful surgery that separated them, pediatric surgeons at Children’s Hospital said recently.

“So far, the girls have exceeded expectations,” said Dr. David Tuggle, the chief surgeon for twins Preslee Faith Wells and Kylee Hope Wells. “Their wounds are 99 percent healed and they are gaining weight.”

Their mother, 20-year-old Stevie Stewart of Calumet, said Kylee now weighs 15 pounds and Preslee weighs 14 pounds.

“They’re pretty good size,” Tuggle said. “So far, they’ve done very well.”

Preslee and Kylee had been joined at the chest since their birth on Oct. 25. They were separated on Jan. 19 during a 6-hour procedure that Tuggle said at the time went smoothly.

Tuggle said the girls will need additional surgery to reconstruct their chest but that it is not known when that will occur. They have been removed from a respirator, but Tuggle said the surgery will not be scheduled until the girls no longer need periodic use of a ventilator to help them breath.


The surgery will rebuild the girls’ breast plate, chest and abdomen. Tuggle said he does not know whether the girls will get to go home before the surgery.

Meanwhile, the girls’ mother said she is getting to know her daughters and their personalities.

“It’s nice to be able to pick one of them up at a time,” Stewart said.

Kylee has a darker complexion than her sister and seems to be a bit more laid back, she said.

“Kylee doesn’t care who comes in the room,” she said. “Preslee is just fascinated.”

On some days, the two girls are able to sit in swings and look at each other and their surroundings.

The process of separating the girls, believed to be the first known American Indian conjoined twins, involved splitting the girls’ livers and a tissue bridge that connected them. Doctors have said the twins have a good chance of survival because they had separate hearts and did not share major blood vessels.

“They are incredible,” Tuggle said. They have survived the surgery, the movement of their anatomy and infections, he said. Once separated, their bodies were not quite big enough for all of their organs.

“They have really sailed through dramatically,” he said.

Tuggle said more than 100 health care providers in a variety of disciplines have helped care for the girls in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Tuggle was also part of the team of physicians that separated a pair of conjoined twins born in 1986 in Oklahoma. Those twins, Faith and Hope Cox, now are healthy young women.