Physicians at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome successfully separated conjoined twins whose skulls were fused back to back in what doctor’s have called “one of the rarest and most complex forms of cranial and cerebral fusion.”

The two year old twins Ervina and Prefina Bangalo were born on the 29th of June, 2018 in Mbaiki, the capital city of Lobaye in the Central African Republic. Their specific type of condition occurs only once every two million births.

The twins along with their mother were brought to Italy and the hospital soon after their birth, with the goal of obtaining “a separation with the girls in perfect condition” according to Doctor Carlo Marras, Chief of Paediatric Neurosurgery at the ‘Baby Jesus’ Hospital.

Doctor Marras led a team for two years planning the surgery to separate the twins, saying “the objective we gave ourselves was very ambitious, and we did everything to reach it.” Their greatest issue was the complex web of shared blood vessels bringing blood from the twin’s hearts to their brains.

Marras said the they required “three very delicate operations to progressively reconstruct two independent venous systems,” the last surgery of which took place on the 5th of June and lasted for a total of 18 hours when they finally separated the shared skull bones using 3-D imaging and neurosimulators.

A month later, Marras said the “the twins are fine” and his final prognosis is that “these girls can have a normal life.”

“It was an experience that wasn’t just professional but above all human: to think that you can arrive at something that we had only imagined, with all the possibilities of failure. It was a magical moment. Marvellous.”

The only other successful separation of conjoined twins with skulls fused back to back, known as

The twins mother, Ermine Nzotto, wept as she watched a video prepared by Bambino Gesiu of the twins’ before and after their separation.

“It’s a joy, that I can see my girls run and play like other children. May they tomorrow study and learn to become doctors to save the other children of this world.”

She added that she hopes Pope Francis will baptize her daughters.

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