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Friday, March 24, 2017

After a Successful Recovery from Separation Surgery, Formerly Conjoined Twins Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho Released from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

With 21-hour surgery and first birthday celebration at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital behind them, Ballenie and Bellanie to begin their new lives

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VALHALLA, N.Y. (March 24, 2017) – Following the success of their rare, complex and groundbreaking 21-hour separation surgery, formerly conjoined twins Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho are being released from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) and the children’s hospital for the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County.

Ballenie’s and Bellanie’s surgery was the first separation of conjoined twins ever performed at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and one of the few such procedures ever completed in New York State. The landmark surgery, which has given the twins the chance for better lives, began the morning of January 17 and was completed during the early hours of January 18.

“The multidisciplinary team that cared for Ballenie and Bellanie for months at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital remains optimistic about their continued recovery and the opportunities they now have in front of them,” said Samir Pandya, MD, a pediatric surgeon at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital who, along with Whitney McBride, MD, led the surgical teams.

“The progress Ballenie and Bellanie have made since the separation procedure has been nothing short of remarkable,” said McBride. “More post-surgery care along with further rehabilitation lie ahead for the girls, but they are expected to walk and enjoy full lives, a prospect that wasn’t so promising prior to their stay with us at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.”

Ballenie and Bellanie were pygopagus twins connected at the sacrum, a triangular bone at the base of the spine. They had gastrointestinal, urinary, neurologic and orthopedic connections as well as a shared branch of the hypogastric artery, which is the main supplier of blood to the pelvic region, hips, thighs and reproductive organs.

Conjoined twins are rare, occurring just once in every 200,000 births*. Ballenie and Bellanie’s anatomical connection was rarer still, with as little as six percent of twins born pygopagus**. Additionally, there is only one other case in medical literature showing a successful separation of pygopagus twins with a shared hypogastric artery.

More than 50 medical professionals collaborated during the nearly full-day, marathon surgery, which is summarized in the short feature: The Story Behind Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s Successful Separation of Conjoined Twins Since the surgery Ballenie and Bellanie, nicknamed Las Maripositas (the “Little Butterflies”) by their parents, Abel Camacho and Laurilin Celadilla, have recovered extraordinarily well at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, graduating from the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit to its inpatient floor within a few days after the surgery.

Celebrating Ballenie, Bellanie and Their Bright Future

Just weeks after their separation, Ballenie and Bellanie celebrated their first birthday with a party hosted by Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital that included balloons, presents and two birthday cakes . On hand to celebrate were proud parents Celadilla and Camacho along with hospital staff, many of whom played a role in the breakthrough procedure.

“Our family couldn’t be more thankful for the entire team at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, for their clinical expertise, unwavering dedication to our baby girls and how they welcomed our family into their ‘home,’” said Camacho.

“We are thrilled for Ballenie and Bellanie and their parents, Laurilin and Abel, who trusted us with the care of their daughters and have been instrumental in their successful recovery,” said Michael Gewitz, MD, William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “The girls’ separation and recovery are strong indicators of the quality of staff and depth of programs we have here at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, as well as a testament to Ballenie and Bellanie’s fortitude.”

“Abel and I started this journey with an uncertain future, but we remained positive. Now, as our girls reach this milestone, we are looking forward to the next chapter in our daughters’ lives,” said Celadilla.

Before returning to the Dominican Republic with their parents and reuniting with their sisters Linabel, 2, and Sheily, 10, Ballenie’s and Bellanie’s recovery will continue locally with physical therapy and other services provided in an outpatient capacity, yet another sign of their good health after such a complex procedure.

About Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a Member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is the children’s hospital for New York’s Hudson Valley region and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Located in Valhalla, NY, this 136-bed advanced pediatrics facility cares for the region’s most seriously ill and injured children including those in need of cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, hematology and oncology treatments, organ transplants and other specialty pediatric services. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is also home to the area’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Level I pediatric trauma and burn care programs and its Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. For more information on Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, interested parties can visit www.WestchesterMedicalCenter.org/MFCH or follow the hospital at www.Facebook.com/MFCHatWMC and www.Twitter.com/MFCHatWMC.

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network

The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 12,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. From Level 1, Level 2 and Pediatric Trauma Centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State, today WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit www.WMCHealth.org. 

*According to University of Maryland Medical Center. **Separation surgery of pygopagus asymmetrical conjoined twins sharing U-shaped spinal cord: case report and literature review 1.Hirokazu T, Takayuki I, Yoshinori H, Kazunari K, Akio A, Keiji K. Separation surgery of pygopagus asymmetrical conjoined twins sharing U-shaped spinal cord: case report and literature review. Childs Nerv Syst. 2012;29(4):699-706. doi:10.1007/s00381-012-2007-2.