Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 1, 2012

Formerly conjoined twins return to Va for checkup

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Twin girls who were born attached and underwent complicated surgical procedures to separate them at Virginia Commonwealth University's Children's Hospital have returned to Richmond a year later for a checkup.

Maria and Teresa Tapia attended a Halloween party Wednesday at the Henrico County headquarters of the World Pediatric Project. The nonprofit surgical-care provider for children in Central America and the Caribbean sponsored the twins' medical care, along with the family's stay in the United States.

The girls were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen. A team led by VCU surgeon David Lanning divided the twins' liver, pancreas and other shared organ systems and reconstructed their abdominal walls.

They returned to their native Dominican Republic last December and are now two-and-a-half years old. Their mother, Lisandra Sanatis, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/TbcsYQ ) that the girls are in great health.

Before the separation, there was a seven-pound weight difference in the girls because the nutrition both were taking in went mostly to one of them. Now there's only about a one-pound difference.

"I really have to look at their faces, and Teresa has a mole on her nose, so that's how I can tell them apart," Sanatis said.

The girls wore princess dresses — one blue, one pink — with tiaras and magic wands to the Halloween party.

"They still act very close to each other," Sanatis said. "They are always hugging and kissing on each other.

"Even if one steps out of the room, the other one automatically starts missing her. They now have two separate beds, but some nights one will sneak into the other one."

Lanning said the girls are no longer taking medication.

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