11-month-old conjoined twins are separated after 10-hour surgery

11-month-old conjoined twins are separated after 10-hour surgery

Conjoined twins who were born with a shared diaphragm and liver are successfully separated after undergoing a 10-hour surgery at 11 months old

  • Maggie Altobelli, 33, from Chicago, Illinois, learned at a routine checkup at 20 weeks gestation that she was having conjoined twins 
  • She and her husband, Dom, 34, were told the babies were not going to have an easy journey, but they were determined to give their children a happy life
  • The twins, named Addy and Lily, were born in November 2020 and faced complications right away
  • They were immediately taken to the NICU and underwent tissue expansion surgery to help them grow some skin
  • Because they shared a chest, breathing was difficult as well
  • But in October, 11 months after they were born, the little girls have successfully been separated via surgery and are living on their own

Eleven-month-old conjoined twins who shared a diaphragm and were connected by the liver have now been separated after undergoing a 10-hour surgery.

When Maggie Altobelli, 33, from Chicago, Illinois, was 20 weeks pregnant, she went to the doctor for a routine checkup and was excited to see her baby for the first time via sonogram.

She was stunned when she discovered that not only was she was having twins, but their stomachs were actually connected. 

She and her husband, Dom Altobelli, 34, were told by doctors that the babies were not going to have an easy journey ahead of them, but they were determined to give their children a happy and healthy life.

Now, 11 months after they were born and despite many complications, the little girls – named Addy and Lily – have successfully been separated via surgery, and are living on their own.

Eleven-month-old conjoined twins who shared a diaphragm and were connected by the liver are now separated after undergoing a 10-hour surgery

Maggie Altobelli, 33, and her husband, Dom Altobelli, 34, learned that their twins were conjoined during the pregnancy but were determined to give their children a happy life

Fighters: Now, 11 months after they were born and despite many complications, the girls – Addy and Lily – have successfully been separated via surgery, and are living on their own

Recalling the moment she found out she was having twins, Maggie told Today Parents, ‘I was like, “Oh my gosh, are there two of them?”‘

But the technician looked shocked, removed the wand, and went to fetch the doctor – who told Maggie that she had never seen anything like that during her entire career.

Maggie continued: ‘I said, “Oh finding out you’re having multiples?” And she’s like, “No we get that. Their little stomachs are connected.”

Maggie said that finding out that her babies were conjoined was like an ‘out of body experience’ for her.

‘I was trying to find out the gender of one baby I thought we were having and then it turn out to be a little more complicated,’ she explained.

‘It was an out of body experience. It’s like, “What do you mean their stomachs are connected? Is this even a thing?”’ 

Maggie and Dom met with many specialists and were told that if the twins shared a heart, separating them would not be possible.

Thankfully, they soon discovered that the girls each had their own hearts – however, they did share a diaphragm and were connected by the liver. 

‘[Doctors] said, “Yes, this is a favorable situation. But it’s still a very high-risk delivery and surgery,”‘ Maggie shared.

‘It was a surprise and it was very shocking. But, we just thought that God gave us these girls for a reason.’

The couple decided to move to Pennsylvania to work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the birth and separation, and Dom admitted that they were ‘scared as Hell.’

‘It was quite a ride early on because me and Maggie were scared as hell and had no clue what was going to happen,’ he revealed. ‘We had to just take it one step at a time.’

The couple decided to move to Pennsylvania to work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the birth and separation, and Dom admitted that they were ‘scared as Hell’ 

On November 18, 2020, Maggie delivered Addison (Addy) and Lilianna (Lily) via Cesarian-section, and right away, they were taken into the neonatal intensive care unit



The twins faced complications immediately. Since they shared a chest, breathing was difficult for them. They are pictured at two months (left), four months (center), and six months (right)

On November 18, 2020, when Maggie was 34 weeks pregnant, she delivered Addison (Addy) and Lilianna (Lily) via Cesarean-section, and they were imemdaitely taken into the neonatal intensive care unit. 

Soon after their birth, the girls underwent their first procedure.

‘They underwent tissue expansion, which was to help them grow some skin because they shared their chest wall from below the collarbones all the way down to their bellybuttons,’ their doctor, Holly Hedrick, said.

The twins faced complications immediately. Because they shared a chest, breathing became difficult for them – especially since Lily was larger than Addy.

‘If Lily got upset … she would [control] the breathing,’ Maggie explained. ‘There were times where Addy had coded because she couldn’t breathe because Lily would get upset.’

But Addy and Lily made it through, and they underwent their separation surgery on October 13, 2021 – and Maggie said it was a ‘very emotional’ day for them.

‘It was very surreal, just very emotional. The whole day was very peaceful and we kind of just gave it to God – and we’ve done that throughout this whole journey,’ she recalled. 

Addy and Lily underwent their separation surgery on October 13, 2021 – and Maggie said it was a ‘very emotional’ day for them. In the end, it was successful

Thriving: Just under two months later, on December 1, the couple moved back to Chicago with their babies

Now, the girls still use a breathing tube, but doctors feel hopeful that they’ll be able to breathe on their own soon. They also use a feeding tube but have been practicing eating

Happier than ever: ‘They smile every single day. That has really made it easier,’ their dad gushed. ‘They sit up and look at each other and smile and play’ 

‘We’re just so lucky to have surgeons who know what they’re doing and really worked hard and cared for our girls like they were their own.’

The surgery was successful and just under two months later, on December 1, the couple moved back to Chicago with their babies.

Now, the girls still use a breathing tube, but doctors feel hopeful that they’ll be able to breathe on their own soon.

They also use a feeding tube but have been practicing eating, and they undergo physical, occupation, and speech therapy.

‘They smile every single day. That has really made it easier,’ their dad gushed.

‘They sit up and look at each other and smile and play. Anytime they’re close they’re reaching for each other’s hands and faces and breathing tubes.’

Maggie added: ‘This is our journey. It’s a very special one in many ways. These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It’s pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we’re living this life.’ 

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