Surgeon Who Led Life-Changing Procedure To Separate Conjoined Twins Speaks Out

TODAY

Maggie and Dom Altobelli were excited to find out that they were going to be parents. At first, they thought they were only going to have one child, but at Maggie’s 20 week ultrasound, they got some surprising news. They found out that Maggie was actually pregnant with twins. Not only that, but the twins were conjoined.

While Maggie was still pregnant, the couple, who lives in Chicago, met with specialists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). CHOP is one of only a few hospitals that performs surgery to separate conjoined twins. They have performed 28 of these surgeries, more than any other hospital in the country.

Even before the twins were born, doctors determined that it would be possible to separate them. The twins shared a liver, diaphragm, abdominal wall and chest; however, they each had their own heart, and their liver was large enough to divide in two. This was good news.

The twins, Addison (Addy) and Lilianna (Lily) Altobelli, were born via high risk c-section on November 18, 2020. For the next 10 months, they lived at CHOP. They spent their first four months in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit before being transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

Meanwhile, doctors prepared the babies for surgery by stretching their skin so that it would cover their chest after surgery. They also made 3D models of the girls’ anatomy so the surgical team could practice the surgery.

October 13, 2021, was the big day. Addy and Lily were successfully separated. December 1st was an equally big day. After spending more than a year in Philidelphia, the twins were finally able to fly home to Chicago. They flew home separately, each with one parent. 

Before actually going home, the twins spent two weeks at Lurie Children’s Hospital. When they finally arrived at their house, they discovered that their neighbors had decorated their yard for Christmas.

Maggie and Dom are both overjoyed that their twin girls were able to be separated successfully. Maggie said, “To see them with their own bodies – their bodies were just so perfect – it was amazing.”

Dom explained, “We’re starting a new book – it’s not even a new chapter, it’s a new book.” He added, “We started a brand-new book for the girls, and there’s an Addy book, and there’s a Lily book.”

Watch the video below to meat the Altobelli family and Dr. Holly Hedrick, the surgeon who led the team that successfully separated Addy and Lily.