USA: surgery on conjoined twins with shared kidney

The sisters, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, are fused mid-torso and share a kidney, a liver, a pelvis, a pair of legs and part of the large intestines.

A team of surgeons in Utah will try to separate them in an operation that could take 14 to 30 hours. Doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center say it is the first known separation surgery attempted on twins with a shared kidney, the AP reports.

If all goes according to plan, each girl will get one leg and Kendra the kidney. Maliyah will be put on dialysis for three to six months until she's strong enough for transplant surgery, said Dr. Rebecka Meyers, the hospital's chief of pediatric surgery. Their mother, Erin Herrin, is the planned kidney donor, the AP reports.

Surgeons also plan to bisect the girls' liver, separate their intestines and reconstruct their pelvis. Conjoined twins also commonly have several duplicate or undeveloped internal organs, which doctors will either fix or remove, Meyers said.

Conjoined twins occur about once in every 50,000 to 100,000 births. Only about 20 percent survive to become viable candidates for separation, and most separation surgeries occur when the twins are 6 to 12 months old.

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