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Brothers Conjoined At Head Recovering After Separation Surgery At Bronx Hospital

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Forty medical experts at a Bronx hospital worked for 20 hours to successfully separate twin attached at the head.

The 13-month-old boys, Jadon and Anias McDonald, known as Craniopagus twins, shared brain tissue.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta was given exclusive access at the hospital.

This was the fourth in a series of surgeries to separate them. In total, the surgery took about 27 hours, ending Friday before dawn.

The twins' parents were prompted to have the procedure done partially due to Anias' deteriorating health.

"He really bears the brunt of the burden. He has feeding issues, and breathing issues and vision issues," the boys' mother, Nicole McDonald, said.

Officials at Montefiore Medical Center said the boys are recovering after the marathon procedure, but said they have "a long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead of them.''

In a Facebook post Friday morning the boys' mother described the atmosphere as "one of celebration mixed with uncertainty.''

Dr Goodrich and his team just left. He walked in the room and plopped in the arm chair by the door. After 16 straight...

Posted by Nicole McDonald on Friday, October 14, 2016

She said Jadon did better than Anias during the procedure, adding that doctors predict he may not be able to move part of his body at first.

"Anias really got rocked in this procedure," McDonald said.

She later posted a picture of Jadon alone in a hospital bed, while Anias was still undergoing surgery.

When they told me they were wheeling Jadon up first, it took me a second to comprehend. I actually asked why they...

Posted by Nicole McDonald on Friday, October 14, 2016

They had to reopen Anias' incision. He's still in surgery. No idea how much longer it will be. My heart aches for him all alone down there without his brother. Such a scary time to be alone.

Posted by Nicole McDonald on Friday, October 14, 2016

McDonald said she aches "with the uncertainty of the future.''

No one in the world has operated on my twins like Jadon and Anias then neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich. The boys were the seventh set he has separated in this complicated and challenging process.

He said the McDonalds were fully aware of the risk ahead of time.

"I said the goal is ideally to have both children to come out without neurological issues, but one has to be realistic," he said.

Helping improve the odds of a successful outcome, his team used 3D models of the twins to act as blueprints and practice the procedure.

This was the 59th such separation surgery performed in the world since 1952. Twins conjoined at the head rarely survive past the age of two if they're not separated.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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