Progress continues for formerly conjoined twins separated in the Bronx

NEW YORK (WABC) -- This Thanksgiving is a truly thankful one for one family, as twins who were once conjoined at the heads and were separated in the Bronx continue to make real progress on the long road to recovery.

And the emotional moments continue as parents Nicole and Christian McDonald got to see one child without bandages for the first time.

When Nicole McDonald got to hold her son Jadon for the first time, it was also as if she saw him for the first time.

"As a mother, you know, when you hold your child, you know every bit of their face," she said. "But his face also encompassed Anias' (face), so it was my first moment of relearning his face."

Jadon and Anias are one in 2.5 million, born conjoined at the head, sharing between 1.5 to 2 inches of brain tissue.

After more than a year of planning, the boys were separated after a 27-hour surgery at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in October.

For the McDonalds, this entire month has been full of firsts -- first time in separate beds, first time being held, first time seeing each other. But it hasn't been easy. The boys have battled infections, fevers and seizures, it's been particularly trying for Anias.

"Serious infections close to the brain, skin involvement," Nicole McDonald said. "They had to take the bone out of Anias. They had to take skin out. It's just been - for Anias, there's never a break."

Despite all of that, the boys' doctors are pleased with their progress. Dr. James Goodrich is their neurosurgeon.

"When we deal with traumatic cases, people with injuries, recovery times are in months, sometimes in years," he said. "So we're a month...One month out, this to me is incredibly fast."

And the family remains hopeful for the future.

"I think about their future all the time, all the time," Nicole McDonald said. "I think about the first time they go to a park. I think about them getting married someday. I think about - I've thought through their whole future 100 times over."

But worries still persist.

"It's not that I'm not optimistic, I don't know, I'm just more curious about what the future holds for them," Christian McDonald said. "But I guess I don't want to get my hopes up. I guess I just take it one day at a time."

Still, each day continues to bring more blessings and firsts for the family, including seeing Jadon without his head dressings.

"It's amazing," Nicole McDonald said. "This is the most amazing thing, and look at his little hair on top that's growing in...when I look at them and I see them laying in their beds, whole, and generally healthy and mentally with it and moving forward, I don't just see that separation miracle. But that God was there. Even when I was pregnant, to get them here and to get us here and to make this whole symphony of things happen."
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