It took 75 doctors and seven gruelling hours of complicated surgery. But 13-month-old twins Anna and Hope Richards are alive, well, and separated. 

Watch their incredible story unfold thanks to the dedicated team at Texas Children’s Hospital and the wonders of modern medicine.

Anna and Hope shared part of their heart, their liver and their diaphragm when they were born in 2016. Now they share a story like no other, a medical miracle that will change their lives forever.

Doctors at Texas Children's Hospital take conjoined twins into surgery
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital

Together, but separate

In 2015, Jill and Michael Richards of Texas, USA received the exciting news that they were expecting twin girls. Already parents to two boys, the couple were over the moon and couldn’t wait to meet their daughters.

However, during a routine ultrasound, doctors discovered the girls were conjoined at the chest and the abdomen.

Unsure what this meant for their twins, the Richards hoped for the best and prepared for the next chapter of their lives.

Anna and Hope Richards at Texas Children's Hospital
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital

On 29 December 2016 Anna Grace Richards and Hope Elizabeth Richards were born at 35+5 weeks via caesarean. They shared a diaphragm, liver and part of their heart and weighed a combined total of 4.42 kilograms.

“Considering their complicated situation no one really knew what to expect that day,” Jill recalls. “Those first few sweet cries were a great relief that brought tears to our eyes.

Anna and Hope Richards at 7 months
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital
Anna and Hope Richards at 11 months
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital
Anna and Hope Richards with their family
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital

They have continued to amaze everyone with their progress.”

‘Prepare for the worst, hope for the best’

On 13 January 2018, Anna and Hope returned to the operating room at Texas Children’s Hospital for what would most likely be the most intense day of their little lives.

conjoined twins Anna Grace Richards and Hope Elizabeth Richards go into surgery
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital

The girls underwent seven hours of surgery, an operation that took a team of nearly 75 medical professionals including surgeons, anaesthesiologists, cardiologists and nurses from eight specialities.

“This is the kind of surgery where you plan for the worst and hope for the best,”  Dr Oluyinka Olutoye, Paediatrician surgeon at Texas Children’s Fetal Center, told reporters.

Fortunately, this is exactly what happened. And the incredible video below captures it all.

Conjoined identical twin girls successfully separated at Texas Children’s Hospital

On Jan. 13, Texas Children's Hospital successfully performed its fourth conjoined twins separation, giving identical twin girls Anna and Hope a chance at a normal life. The seven-hour procedure was performed by a multidisciplinary team of nearly 75 surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists and nurses from eight specialties.

Posted by Texas Children's Hospital on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

 

As the girls are separated in the operating room, you can hear the claps and cheers of relief from the medical team. Thanks to the dedication of these incredible doctors, Anna and Hope have a chance to live a normal life.

Twins expected to make full recovery

Although the girls will require more surgeries to ensure their chest walls are stabilised, they have made it through the toughest phase.

The Richards family look forward to watching their two beautiful girls grow up together, but separately.

Hope Richards after surgery
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital
Anna and Hope Richards with mum, dad and brothers
Image: Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children’s Hospital

“We’ve thought about and prayed for this day for almost two years,” Jill said. “It’s an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds. We couldn’t be more thankful to the entire team at Texas Children’s for making this dream come true.”

For more incredible stories that prove just how awesome modern medicine is, see our story on the world’s ‘most premature baby ever’ born at just 21 weeks and thriving today. 

Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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