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Once conjoined twins return home to Chicago area after separation surgery – NBC Chicago

Two young conjoined twins have returned home after successful separation surgery and a stay in Philadelphia for more than a year.

Addison and Lilianna Altobelli were born conjoined at the abdomen and chest, sharing a liver, diaphragm, chest, and abdominal wall.

The twins were diagnosed prenatally in August 2020 when a routine scan showed their parents, Maggie and Dom Altobelli, had conjoined twins.

“[Doctors]first advised us like, ‘Hey, that’s a very long way,'” Maggie told TODAY Parents. “We said, ‘Well, let’s do all the studies and make sure these girls are going to live as healthy lives as possible.'”

“I’m a perpetual optimist and thought we could handle it,” said Dom Altobelli.

Addison and Lillianna were born on November 18, 2020 at just 4.2 pounds each and spent 11 months in the NICU.

Even before the twins were born, the family moved to Pennsylvania to be close to the medical team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the few hospitals in the US with experience in separating conjoined twins.

On October 13, a surgical team of more than two dozen specialists began the operation that the family had been waiting for.

“We cried with excitement and love just like you girls have no idea what’s going to happen,” the parents said.

Ten hours later, the Altobellis saw their daughters separated for the first time.

“It was very surreal, just very emotional. The whole day was very peaceful and we just gave it to God — and that’s what we’ve been doing throughout this journey,” NBC’s Maggie told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb in an exclusive interview. “We’re just so fortunate to have surgeons who know what they’re doing and who have worked really hard and taken care of our girls like they were their own.”

On December 1, the family returned to Chicago, where the twins spent two weeks at Lurie Children’s Hospital before being released for Christmas.

Both girls still have tracheostomy tubes and ventilators to help with their breathing because they will need time to build up their muscles and adjust to their own breathing, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Over time, they will be weaned off the ventilators.

“We’re starting a new book — it’s not even a new chapter, it’s a new book,” Dom said. “We’ve come out with a brand new book for the girls, and there’s an Addy book and a Lily book.”

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