The Michigan Daily-Thursday, May 31, 1979-Page 5
FIRST TIME FOR BRAIN SEPARA TION:
Link between Siamese twins severed
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Doctors
severed a small connection between the
brains of Siamese twins Lisa and Elisa
Hansen during a sixteen-and-one-half-
hour operation to separate the girls,
their doctor said yesterday.
Dr. Stephen Minton said the 19-
month-old twins were in "critical but
stable condition" yesterday, as they
were when surgery ended at 3:05 a.m.
He said a small connection between
the sisters' brains was severed by
surgeons during the marathon
operation. Previously, doctors had said
the twins' brains were separate,
although linked by shared blood
MINTON SAID neurosurgeons
separated the brains - linked at a
small spot at the back of the head -
without difficulty, adding it was too
early to tell if either girl suffered brain
Working in shifts through the
evening, teams of surgeons. -
neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons,
anasthesiologists, and pediatricians -
cut through skin and skull and tied off
blood vessels the girls had shared all
The girls' brains were separate,
although touching. They had shared
veins carrying blood away from the
LISA AND ELISA were perfectly
normal, both physically and mentally,
except for their being attached, doctors
"I love them. I want them to be per-
fectly normal," said Minton of the girls,
daughters of David and Patricia Han-
sen of Ogden, Utah.
He said the next days and weeks will
be critical for the twins, born joined at
the top of their heads.
THE GIRLS tolerated the risky
surgery well, the doctor said, but
"there are many things which could go
wrong" - including infection and
Doctors used magnifying lenses,
strapped to their foreheads to work on
the tiny blood vessels, he said. During
the operation, two surgical tables were
pushed together for the babies.
Minton described the feeling in the
Utah Medical Center operating room at
the moment of separation.
"THE GIRLS are like members of
our own family. There was an
exhilarating feeling of accomplish-
ment. I was extremely excited at that
The girls are in the hospital's inten-
sive care unit - in separate beds for the
first time in their lives. During the day,
medical center spokesman John Dwan
said they were "moving and laughing.
The twins' parents were in seclusion
yesterday, but the sisters' uncle repor-
ted, "Boy, are they happy !"
"WE'RE ALL happy," said the uncle,
Paul Hansen,.19. "It's a medical first
and we're privileged to be part of it."
He quoted the twins' father as saying,
"We're relieved and the Lord has an-
swered our prayers. We've been hoping
SIAMESE TWINS Lisa and Elisa Hansen underwent a 16-hour operation that ended yesterday and separated the tops of
their heads. The 19-month-old twins are in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Utah Medical Center.
and praying for this day. It's a miracle,
a dream come true."
At 3:05 a.m., as the girls were being
brought out of their deep sleep and
ushered to the intensive care unit, Elisa
cried out, said Dwan, who watched part
of the operation.
"ALL OF A SUDDEN little Elisa, her
arms swung out and she - 'Waaaa' -
she cried," he said. "There were smiles
and drooping shoulders and the doctors
Dwan compared the operation to a
ballet - "absolutely incredible to wat-
ch." He said the operating room was
noisy with up to 11 doctors working at
Other attempts to separate such
twins have ended in death or severe
mental retardation, said Minton. Total
and successful separation had never
been accomplished on twins joined in
such a manner, he added.
"IT'S BEEN A long, long time," said
Paul Hansen. "So many operations and
so many times in the hospital. There'st
still a lot to do, but the big part is over.
Our prayers were answered."
He said Lisa and Elisa still face long
periods of additional hospitalization,
"primarily for plastic surgery."
However, he said it has been the
parents' wish all along that separation
be attempted so the girls could live
"IT'S GOING TO be quite something
.holding them again," he laughed.
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