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Once-Joined Twins Leave New York Hospital Apart  - 2004-08-30

The Philippine conjoined twins who were separated in a New York hospital on August 4 after months of operations left the hospital for rehabilitation Monday.

Doctors, nurses and staff members at Montefiore Medical Center gave the twins a hearty round of applause as they left. The little boys, Carl and Clarence Aguirre, traveled in separate ambulances with a police escort to a children's hospital where they have been staying between operations with their very happy mother, Arlene Aguirre.

"It is really amazing," she said. "It is incredible, it is so unbelievable. Look at them. They are separate and both alive."

The two-year-old twins have undergone four major operations since they came to the hospital last September. They were joined at the top of their heads and doctors first had to insert inflatable balloons under their scalps to gradually stretch their skin so that it would cover both of their heads once they were separated. The lead surgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, called their recovery a "medical miracle." Their plastic surgeon, Dr. David Staffenberg said the twins came to the hospital as one, but are leaving as two healthy boys.

"Already at this point they are both doing extremely well," he said. "They are moving everything they should be moving. They are engaging. They are back to flirting with the nurses and competing with each other to get Arlene's attention." The twins will continue their recovery and physical therapy before they return to Montefiore for reconstruction of their skulls.