WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — More than a decade after doctors separated conjoined twins, the girls returned to the hospital for a visit.
The team at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA spent 23 painstaking hours separating identical twins Josie and Teresita Alvarez 13 years ago.
On Monday, the girls returned for a heartwarming visit with the staff.
They, along with their adoptive mothers, also decorated the rooms of some of the children being treated at the hospital who will likely spend the holidays in a hospital bed.
“It helps them cheer up and that’s how they get well,” Josie said.
After their work was done, some of the doctors and nurses who led the team who separated the twins came to see how they were doing.
When asked whether he was sure the twins would survive, Henry Kawamoto, the lead plastic surgeon, said: “I must say we didn’t even think about that.”
“When you’re planning an operation, you’re planning it so that they’ll survive,” Kawamoto added.
The twins are thriving now, but had a rough start. When they went back to their native Guatemala after their surgery, Teresita contracted meningitis, which attacked her brain.
When it became apparent to doctors and their family that Guatemala couldn’t handle their medical needs, the girls came back to the U.S. to live with their adoptive families.
Still, they’ll always be connected.
“We have so many things in common,” Josie said. “She likes singing and I like singing and she loves swimming and I like swimming.”
Although the girls live separately, they do most things together, including celebrating their a joint quinceanera when they turn 15 this summer.