As medical technology has advanced, more conjoined twins are now being afforded a shot at a normal and healthy life and the chance to live separate lives. Ten-month-old Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata are soon going to get that chance. The conjoined twin girls have just completed a tissue expansion procedure that will get them one step closer to separation surgery, which they'll undergo mid-February at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.
Though they share a number of vital organs -- including lungs, heart, liver and diaphragm muscles -- doctors are confident the surgery will turn out to be a success. The twins are joined at the chest and pelvis.
"They are a very challenging set of conjoined twins," Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children's Fetal Center, told CBS affiliate KHOU.
The girls were born April 11, and each weighed in at 3 pounds, 7 ounces. They were born at 31 weeks gestation, which is only a few weeks shy of what's typical for a twin pregnancy.
They currently weigh approximately 17 pounds each, and are still being cared for at the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
The Mata twins underwent the preparation surgery a month ago, which involved placing custom-made tissue expanders into the chest and abdomens. Tissue expanders are similar to balloons that gradually inflate with fluid, which helps to stretch the skin.
The separation surgery next month is expected to require the expertise of 10 surgeons and a total of 30 hospital staff members. "I know that we're going be successful at separating them and I know that they're both going to walk into their kindergarten classes just like any other kid. And by the time they get to be that age they're going have forgotten all these processes and everything they went through," said Cass.
The months taken by the doctors to ready the babies for the surgery has helped to mentally prepare the family for the future.
"I'm looking forward to it," said their mom, Elysse Mata. "I'm nervous. I'm excited and anxious. And I'm ready to have my two separate babies."