Year After Risky Surgery in the Bronx, Conjoined Twins ‘Defying the Odds'

Without separation, twins conjoined at the head typically do not survive past their second birthday

What to Know

  • Last October, Jason and Anias McDonald underwent a 20-hour surgery, the last of four major procedures carried out over nine months
  • The doctor who worked on the craniopagus twins said it was one of the most challenging cases of his career
  • Although there were setbacks, such as seizures and scalp infections, their recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, medical team says

A year after two brothers who were conjoined at the head underwent a complex and risky procedure in the Bronx, they’re making steady progress and beginning to live lives similar to most 2-year-old children.

Jason and Anias McDonald have defied the odds over the last 12 months. Jadon is crawling and playing with his big brother’s toys. Anias, who faced an especially tough post-surgery recovery, is showing progress too; he’s gaining more strength, and breathing and sleeping more easily.

Last October, the boys underwent a 20-hour surgery — the final one of four carried out over nine months at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. The procedure involved mapping the brothers’ attached brains using virtual planning and 3D printing technologies.

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In a statement, Dr. James Goodrich, director of pediatric neurosurgery, said he has worked on separating eight sets of craniopagus twins, but this was one of the most challenging cases of his career.

“Looking back to one year ago, we were confident we could separate the boys, but it wasn’t until the final operation that we could really see how conjoined their brains were,” Goodrich said.

Although there were setbacks during the final separation, such as seizures and scalp infections, their recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, according to their medical team. A press release from Montefiore said they've been “defying the odds.”

The boys’ parents and big brother Aza relocated from Chicago to the Bronx so they could be by their side as they underwent months of specialized rehabilitation at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester.

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“We always had faith that the boys would get to where they are today,” Nicole McDonald said of her sons in a statement. “We are so happy and blessed to all be at home together and see the boys achieve new milestones every day.”

Since the surgery, the McDonald brothers were featured in a CNN documentary “Separated: Saving the Twins,” bringing them worldwide attention, and fans.

“We are humbled and grateful for the continued support we receive from our extended families at Montefiore, Blythedale and people we have never even met, as we have gone through this journey,” Nicole McDonald said.

One in 2.5 million live births are craniopagus, or conjoined at the head, and without separation, craniopagus twins typically do not survive past their second birthday, according to Montefiore Hospital.

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