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Australian doctors say conjoined twins from Bangladesh face an arduous recovery after being successfully separated in a 25-hour operation. Two-year-old sisters Trishna and Krishna were joined at the top of the head, requiring delicate surgery to separate their brains.
Doctors say it is too early to know whether Trishna and Krishna suffered any brain damage from the surgery. The girls will remain in an induced coma to for several days to allow them to recover and allow doctors to monitor their progress.
At the end of the marathon operation at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne Tuesday, doctors said the moment of separation was "rather surreal."
It took a team of 16 doctors and nurses more than 25 hours to separate the twins, who still face the risk of serious blood loss and infections.
After they were separated, plastic surgeons began reconstructing their skulls using a combination of bone grafts and artificial materials.
The chief of surgery, Leo Donnan, says it has been quite an ordeal for his young patients.
"Long-term there are many risks associated with the girls. They have got to recover - their bodies have to recover from this," he said. "All I can say is that everything is in place for the best possible outcome. Look, these are once-in-a-lifetime operations that teams would do, so for the hospital it is a historic moment. For the girls it is even a more historic moment."
The twins were found in an orphanage in Bangladesh in 2007 by a representative from Melbourne's Children First Foundation, who brought them to Australia.
They were gravely ill when they arrived and underwent several preparatory operations before being separated. The doctors doing the surgery had warned that there was a 50 percent chance that one or both of the girls could suffer brain damage as a result.
The plight of Trishna and Krishna inspired a couple from Darwin to walk 6,000 kilometers across the Australian continent with a convoy of camels to raise thousands of dollars for their medical treatment.
Conjoined siblings are identical twins. The condition is rare, but occurs more frequently in Africa and parts of Asia than in developed countries, although the precise reasons are unclear.