Formerly conjoined North Carolina twins learning to grow independently

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One year later, formerly conjoined twins learning to grow independently - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on January 23, 2019.

It's been more than a year since a pair of conjoined twins from North Carolina were separated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Now, life for 2-year-old Erin and Abby Delaney is about playing and fun as they learn to grow independently. They don't comprehend the hours of therapy they do every day, but it is paying off.

Abby and Erin entered the world sharing a skull. At just 10 months of age, they were separated during 11 hours of surgery at Children's Hospital.

However, that was just the start of what's still a long, difficult road. They spent 485 days in the hospital before going home to Charlotte, and every day includes hours working on basic skills younger children have already mastered.

"The girls are getting physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, play therapy, and music therapy," mom Heather Delaney said with a laugh. "We have a ton of therapy."

She says the twins are learning something new every week. Abby can finally sit by herself, and though neither girl walks, Erin is crawling everywhere.

"She is a little crazy person," Heather said. "She crawls faster than any child I've ever seen crawl. She is also starting to pull herself up on things."
They're also developing individual personalities.

"Erin loves music," Heather said. "Anytime music comes on, she starts kicking her feet. Abby is a people person. She just loves to sit on somebody's lap."

The twins will need more surgery, with the first slated in the next year or two, to close the holes in the tops of their heads.

"It's very safe for them to live with no bone on the top of their head now, but as they get older, participating in sports, etc., it'd be good for them to have completed skulls," said Dr. Jesse Taylor, plastic surgeon at CHOP.

They'll also need plastic surgery for their faces and scalps. Heather says it's been an ordeal, but she's grateful.
"They changed their lives, so that they can be whoever they want to be, instead of just being 'the conjoined twins,'" she said.

This was one of the earliest separations for twins joined at the head, but the doctors say younger babies heal faster and they believe Abby and Erin will have better brain recovery and physical progress. Their mom says that they are her miracle babies.

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