By KATELYN HAND
Conjoined twins Bessy and Doris Gonzales were in serious condition Thursday after surgery to separate shared brain blood vessels caused bleeding and extreme variances between the twins’ blood pressure.
After surgery Tuesday, the second in a series to separate the girls, Bessy, the smaller of the twins, went into seizures. Bleeding in the brain caused extremely high blood pressure.
“They have had some surgery (Thursday) morning to evacuate the clotted blood in Bessy’s brain. They are still very critical but seem to be stabilizing somewhat, so we are watching them very closely,” said Laura Winder, Primary Children’s Medical Center spokeswoman.
While the doctors attempted to control Bessy’s blood pressure with medication, Doris’ blood pressure, already low, plummeted.
Winder said that Miriam Walker, pediatric neurosurgeon in charge of the operation, had never seen such a dramatic difference in blood pressure between conjoined twins as in this case.
The twins were born in Honduras by Caesarean section in September. Conjoining at the head is the rarest form of conjoining and occurs in approximately one in 1,250,000 births, accounting for 2 percent of all conjoined births.
Because the twins share a major blood vessel connecting their blood supply, the process must be done gradually enough to let the brains build up their own network of vessels in the area without shocking the twins’ system by cutting the blood supply off too quickly.
Winder said Walker had hoped to perform the next surgery in two weeks, completing the process in three surgeries. “But right now they are very ill. All plans are on hold till we see how they do,” Winder said.
The twins came to Primary Children’s through Kimel Fisher, a dentist from Murray who met the twins’ mother while on a humanitarian mission in Honduras. After months of negotiations, the twins were accepted as charity care patients and came to Utah with their mother on Feb. 20.
Charity cases are not unusual at Primary Children’s. Winder said 2,586 children were treated in 1995 from funds from charity programs such as Festival of Trees and Pennies by the Inch.
Once the twins are separated, they will undergo reconstructive surgery to restore the tops of their skulls. After reconstruction is complete, the infants will have therapy to help them catch up with developmental skills.