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Texas Children’s Hospital Announces Homecoming for Formerly Conjoined Twin Girls Ella Grace and Eliza Faith Fuller

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After successful separation at nation’s largest children’s hospital, sisters set to go home as two babies for the first time

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HOUSTON (July 10, 2023) – Texas Children’s Hospital is proud to announce that twin sisters Ella Grace and Eliza Faith Fuller are now on their way home after being separated just last month. The sisters spent more than four months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) following their birth at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in March.

The complex surgery on June 14 lasted approximately six hours and was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of 17 clinicians working together to separate the girls who were conjoined at the abdomen and shared liver tissues.

The clinical team included:

  • 7 surgeons
  • 4 anesthesiologists
  • 4 surgical nurses
  • 2 surgical technicians

Led by Dr. Alice King, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital and Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, the surgical subspecialties involved included pediatric surgery and plastic surgery.

“Our team began planning and preparing for this operation before these babies were even born,” said King. “From conducting simulations of the procedure, to collaborating extensively with our colleagues in anesthesiology, maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology and radiology, we have all been working together to achieve one common goal: the best outcome for Ella and Eliza.”

Ella and Eliza were born at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women on March 1, 2023, at 2:11 p.m. at 35-weeks’ gestation via Caesarean section. Estimated to weigh 5 pounds, 10 ounces each, the babies were welcomed by parents Sandy and Jesse Fuller and joined big sister, Emilia.

During a routine ultrasound during her second trimester, Sandy learned she was expecting conjoined twin girls. Referred to Texas Children’s Fetal Center, Sandy underwent extensive prenatal testing and imaging to determine if separation would be possible after the babies were born.

“As one of the select few hospitals in the nation that specializes in the treatment and separation of conjoined twins, this excellent outcome is a testament to our enormously talented and dedicated teams,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, Surgeon-In-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and Vice Chair of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “Because of their expertise, extensive planning and seamless collaboration, the procedure went much quicker than anticipated, which led us all to our unified goal — sending two healthy babies home to join their family.”

Additionally, a large, multi-disciplinary team prepared for the twins' delivery via C-section, led by Dr. Roopali Donepudi, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Conjoined twin pregnancies are incredibly rare and very high-risk, so it’s important that an expectant mother receive care from a highly-skilled maternal-fetal medicine team,” said Donepudi. “The prenatal testing and imaging that Sandy underwent at Texas Children’s Fetal Center was incredibly thorough, and informed not only the labor and delivery team to ensure that mom and babies had the best birth outcome, but also allowed our neonatal and surgery colleagues to begin planning for the twins’ care while still in utero.”

The babies were delivered by Dr. Michael Belfort, Obstetrician and Gynecologist In-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Jesse Muñoz, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine.

“The delivery of conjoined twins is very complex, and we are incredibly privileged to have the cutting-edge facilities and exceptionally skilled people for this type of coordinated prenatal care and birth at Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women,” said Belfort.

In addition to the team providing prenatal care to Sandy, another large multi-disciplinary workgroup including neonatologists, NICU nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dietitians and physical and occupational therapists spent two months planning and preparing for the birth and ultimate NICU admission of the girls.

An hour after delivery, Ella and Eliza were transferred to the Texas Children’s Hospital level IV NICU, one of the largest in the nation, where they would spend the next three months being cared for in preparation for separation surgery.

“Every set of conjoined twins poses unique challenges for our team, and Ella and Eliza were no exception," said Dr. Jonathan Davies, a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “Through the coordination by our Conjoined Twin Clinical Program, we were able to personalize our treatments for Ella and Eliza. This allowed all of our teams to provide the specialized care that they needed from the delivery room, through preparing for their separation surgery and now to the very exciting milestone of getting to go home.”

Following the successful operation, the girls returned to the NICU where they made a swift recovery. Both babies were extubated three days after surgery, giving their parents, Sandy and Jesse, the opportunity to hold their daughters separately for the first time in their lives. Ella and Eliza continued to make excellent progress toward healing, growing and returning home just four weeks after separation. The family is thrilled to begin this new chapter of their lives with all three of their daughters.

“Texas Children’s Hospital was a place of comfort and hope for our family,” said Sandy. “From the beginning to the end, we were guided, informed and comforted. We are so grateful God put some of the best doctors and nurses in our lives to give our girls the best chance at life. We truly love Texas Children’s.”

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