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Separated Twins' Condition Upgraded

Dr. Rebecka Meyers, right, and Dr. Michael Matlak, second left, work with other hospital staff to seperate conjoined twins Kendra and Maliyah Herrin during surgery at Primary Children's Medical Center Monday, Aug. 7, 2006 in Salt Lake City.
AP Photo/Aron Prigg
Doctors have upgraded the condition of separated conjoined twins Kendra and Maliyah Herrin from critical to serious but stable.

The four-year-old girls born fused at the mid-torso were separated in a 26-hour surgery that ended August eighth at Primary Children's Medical Center. They were removed Saturday from the ventilators that had helped them breathe.

Hospital spokeswoman Laura Winder says doctors waited to upgrade the twins' condition until the girls spent 24 hours breathing on their own.

The girls remain on heavy pain medication in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. Winder said they have opened their eyes, but it's unclear how aware they are of what's going on around them.

Before the surgery, the North Salt Lake girls shared not only a torso, but a liver, kidney, bladders, a single pelvis and two legs, one controlled by each girl.

Surgeons separated their bodies, liver and bladder and reconstructed their divided pelvis. Each girl kept one leg and Kendra kept the kidney, which was in her body.

Maliyah is on kidney dialysis and is expected to undergo transplant surgery in three to six months. Her mother, Erin Herrin, is the planned donor.

Conjoined twins occur about once in every 50,000 to 100,000 births. Only about 20 percent survive to become viable candidates for separation.

When separation surgery is performed, it's usually within the first year. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reported that with Kendra and Maliyah, their doctors and parents thought it best to wait until Maliyah was old enough to receive a kidney transplant from her mother. That surgery is to be performed in about six months.

Parents Jake and Erin Herrin also have a 6-year-old daughter and twin 14-month-old boys.