As a reminder, Great Ormond Street Hospital is not able to discuss any patient without the express consent of their parents or carer. This is true regardless of the level of public interest in a patient, which we are sure you will understand.
While not commenting on a particular case, we can say the following:
As of May 2010, the Great Ormond Street Hospital team has dealt with 22 separations, 19 here (including Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf) and three elsewhere. They have also dealt with nine inoperable cases, giving a total of 31.
Great Ormond Street Hospital is the most experienced centre in Europe for the management of and, if necessary, the separation of conjoined twins. We have the two most experienced surgeons in the UK in this work leading a team of expert nurses, doctors, and other health professionals, providing the full range of expertise needed.
The experience of the team in imaging, intensive care and the like is as important as surgical skill. Separation is best carried out at a tertiary centre with the full range of specialties on hand.
The prospects for conjoined twins vary widely depending on their general state of health, how they are joined and what organs are shared.
For outcome analysis the team refers to three clinical scenarios:
- Planned separation where the children are stable and where separation can be undertaken at a suitable time. The survival rate for such operations carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital is around 80 per cent. Under these circumstances both usually survive and have a good quality of life.
- Emergency separation where one or both children are dead or dying and where separation is undertaken to try and save at least one baby. Survival rates are in the region of 20-25 per cent. Survivors may nevertheless have a good quality of life.
- Inoperable cases. In general children joined at the heart are inoperable and sadly will usually die. Similarly, twins joined at the brain are often inoperable but may survive for many years.
We have successfully separated twins joined at the brain and they are doing well.
Even within these categories success rates will vary depending on case by case circumstances.
Sacrifice surgery, where surgeons try to make one viable child out of two has not been carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital and, in general, tends to lead to the death of both children.
GOSH-ICH Press Office: 020 7239 3125
For genuine and urgent out of hours call speak to switchboard on 020 7405 9200