It’s not every day that we hear about craniopagus twins in the United States, let alone craniopagus twins so close to home. Yet, just yesterday Anias and Jadon McDonald from Coal City, Illinois, went from being connected at the cranium and sharing brain matter to recovering in two separate beds.
(It’s OK to cry.)
The McDonald twins’ story went viral after CNN featured the family the morning before the fourth and final surgery for the boys. After being featured, the family’s GoFundMe page went from having significantly less than the goal to more than doubling it.
After seeing the positive results and the power of social media, mother Nicole McDonald made her Facebook page public and updated us at home quicker than news outlets. Anias and Jadon were wheeled into the operating room together one last time Thursday morning at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. The twins’ procedure took more than 27 hours total, 16 of which were the separation process itself. The remaining time was used to rebuild the individual skills as well as tend to any complications.
Jadon was wheeled out of surgery first at 7:40 a.m. this morning and was brought to the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU). Meanwhile, Anias remained in surgery for another five hours. Around 1 in the afternoon, surgeons closed on Anias and the two were reunited.
The twins will be sedated and intubated for the next week and to carry on medical treatment from there. From here on out, it is a “vast unknown,” according to Nicole. However, though she and husband Christian are still struggling, they are nothing short of thankful for the strength, compassion and integrity of the doctors, nurses, staff, and of course, her twin boys.
Nicole and Christian had to make an agonizing decision when debating whether or not to move forward with this surgery. The two decided to move forward even though the procedure carried major risks, such as the possibility of brain damage or death for Anias and/or Jadon. However, opting to leave the boys together carries an 80% chance of death by the age of two, according to medical studies.
The successful surgery was led by Dr. James Goodrich, the leading expert on craniopagus surgery. Goodrich established a new way of separating craniopagus twins: rather than one 50-plus hour surgery, he opts to do severl smaller, shorter ones.
Anias and Jadon’s surgery marked Goodrich’s seventh time performing this procedure and marked only the 59th time it was performed in the world since 1952. None of Goodrich’s patients have ever died during the operation.
Do not hesitate to send donations to the family. Visit Jadon and Anias’ GoFundMe. For the most up-to-date information regarding the brave boys, follow Nicole McDonald on Facebook.