American Univesity of Beirut

AUBMC makes history in performing the first successful separation of newborn conjoined twins in Lebanon

​​​​​​In line with its promise to provide cutting-edge medical treatment and technologies, the American University o​f Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) performed the first successful separation of newborn conjoined twins in Lebanon. The 10-hour long surgery of separating Rahaf and Riham was the first to be carried out in Lebanon and was a result of coordinated and orchestrated teamwork between the various medical teams at AUBMC. A multidisciplinary team of pediatric surgeons, vascular surgeons, plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, neonatal physicians, and highly specialized nurses all joined forces and worked relentlessly toward achieving one goal: providing the twins with the best quality of life.

The mother was admitted to AUBMC, and the twins were delivered and admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where they received highly specialized care for a period of four months in preparation for the surgery. They were connected at the level of the pelvis in a back-to-back fashion (Pygopagus). They shared a common anal canal, dural sac, and the most distal segments of their spinal cords. Besides, many small and medium sized vessels were crossing from one baby to the other. Other internal pelvic organs such as the vagina were not shared between the two babies, however, they were very close to the plane of separation. Surgeons from different divisions, namely pediatric surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, and vascular surgery, in collaboration with the anesthesia physicians, teamed up to perform this unique procedure to separate the twins. The plastic surgery team created flaps to ensure proper skin coverage for both babies at the conclusion of the surgery. The neurosurgery team separated the spinal cords and dural sacs of the babies. The pediatric surgery team separated the rectum of one baby and pulled it down creating a new “anal canal" and reconstructed the fecal continence muscles and pelvic floor for both babies, while protecting all the other pelvic organs. The procedure was completed successfully with no complications. The twins are now back in the NICU under the care of the AUBMC medical and nursing teams.

Caretaker Minister of Public Health, Dr. Firas Abiad said, “This surgery is a message of hope. The health system in Lebanon, even if it faces great difficulties, is a flexible system and is still able to be in the first line in providing the highest standards and the most advanced healthcare to the people of Lebanon."

On this achievement, AUB President Khuri said, “Always proud of our stellar healthcare professionals at AUBMC, in this case for successfully performing the first twin separation surgery in Lebanon despite the hardships in this country, thus providing a better quality of life and hope for the people of this country and beyond." ​

Medical Center Director Joseph Otayek said, “This surgery is a milestone for our medical center, for our university, and for our country. Despite the dire situations Lebanon is going through and the challenges the medical sector is facing, AUBMC proceeds to mark a historical moment in Lebanon's medical sector."

The Raja N. Khuri Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs Raymond Sawaya added, “To have this kind of expertise is unique, and to be able to do this kind of surgery during these very difficult circumstances is truly exceptional."  

Against all odds, and despite all the challenges Lebanon is facing, AUBMC remains the benchmark for medical education, medical innovation, and compassionate care in providing top-notch services in Lebanon, the region, and beyond.

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