Formerly conjoined twin boys released from Dallas hospital

Last Updated Apr 16, 2014 5:20 PM EDT

DALLAS -- Conjoined twin boys separated last summer in a complex operation were released Wednesday from the Dallas hospital that's been their home since birth.

Officials at Medical City Children's Hospital say 9-month-old Owen and Emmett Ezell are moving to a local inpatient rehabilitation center to continue their recovery. The boys were born joined at the abdomen and were separated in a nine-hour operation last August.

"They're doing so well," their mother, Jenni Ezell, told CBS News. "Look at how beautiful they are." She says they're sitting up on their own and "flirt with all the girls that come in."

Doctors say the twins are no longer being fed intravenously but continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens. And instead of being hooked to breathing machines, they now need only the assistance of a trachea tube. The Facebook page "Prayers for Emmett and Owen Ezell" has tracked their progress over the past few months.

"We've received encouragement from all over the world," father Dave Ezell told CBS News. "It's phenomenal and it's uplifted us up more than just about anything."

When they were born last July, the twins were joined from just below the breast bone to just below the belly button. The babies shared a liver and intestines and had an approximately 3-by-5-inch area on their lower stomach that wasn't covered by skin or muscles.

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Conjoined twins Owen and Emmett Ezell were separated in a nine-hour operation at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas on Aug. 24, 2013.
CBS News
Dr. Clair Schwendeman, a neonatologist, said in August that once the boys were born, tests were done to determine exactly how many connections they had. During the operation, a team of surgeons separated the liver and intestines, with the most difficult part being the separation of a shared blood vessel in the liver.

The twins' parents expressed their relief and gratitude at a news conference after the surgery was over. "I'm just so happy that they're here and they're alive and thriving. It's the best feeling in the world," Jenni Ezell said.

She was 17 weeks pregnant when they first learned last spring that the twins they were expecting were conjoined. The couple, who now live in Dallas but lived in Oklahoma at the time, said their doctor there gave them little hope the babies would survive.

"The whole pregnancy was very frightening. I didn't know what would happen. I didn't know if they would make it. It's hard as a mom to know that," she said in August following the successful operation.

Conjoined twins are rare, occurring in about one in 50,000 to one in 200,000 deliveries, doctors say.

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