After 134 days in the hospital, these formerly conjoined twins are home
After more than four months in the neonatal intensive care unit and a complex surgery to separate them, formerly conjoined twins Ella and Eliza Fuller are finally home. It was a long-awaited homecoming for their parents and their older sister, Emilia.
"It's hard to explain in words exactly how excited we are," father Jesse Fuller said in a video provided by the Texas Children's Hospital. "It's been 134 days, so the feelings are overwhelming."
The twins had been in the hospital since their birth by cesarean section in March —each weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. They shared an abdomen, as well as liver tissues, according to the hospital.
When Sandy Fuller found she was pregnant with twins during her second trimester, she was "completely shocked" but excited. But after doctors found out that the twins were conjoined, the couple were referred to the Texas Children's Hospital.
"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," Dr. Roopali Donepudi, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, said in a statement from the hospital.
Conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 60,000 births, and most are stillborn, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
But instead of worrying about the statistics, the couple decided put their trust in God.
"My faith has guided me through this entire journey," Sandy Fuller said. "I knew if He was going to give us these twins, He was going to work it out all the way to the end."
Before the babies were even born, months were spent carefully planning and preparing for an operation that was done last month.
"We have all been working together to achieve one common goal: The best outcome for Ella and Eliza," Dr. Alice King, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital, said in a statement.
Before the surgery, Sandy and Jesse spent time with their babies and then prayed with the surgical team. During the nearly six-hour surgery, a team of 17 people —including seven surgeons, four anesthesiologists, four surgical nurses and two surgical technicians — worked to separate the girls. Dr. King led the team.
Three days after the surgery, the Fullers were able to hold Ella and Eliza separately for the first time. Four weeks later, Ella and Eliza continued to make "excellent progress toward healing, growing and returning home."
The couple said the only way to tell their daughters apart is by a "small, little flat spot" Ella has on one ear. But as they get older, their personalities will speak for themselves, added Jesse Fuller.
"I always say Ella is just sassy with a little bit of drama," Sandy Fuller said. "And Eliza is just more laid back, goes with the flow. But they're both such sweet, happy babies."
Michael Roppolo is a CBS News reporter. He covers a wide variety of topics, including science and technology, crime and justice, and disability rights.