Surgery separates twins joined at hip
September 14th, 2011
03:06 PM ET

Surgery separates twins joined at hip

Doctors at a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital have separated eight-month-old twins who were connected by their pelvis and lower spine.

The Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital announced that they successfully operated on Joshua and Jacob Spates about two weeks ago. The twins remain in the intensive care unit, according to the hospital.

Joshua and Jacob are identical twins, whose bodies had not fully separated while inside their mother’s womb.  Although they each had their own heart, head and limbs, they shared a lower part of the spine, rectum, muscle and nerves in that area.

Shortly after their birth, they received a colostomy, which is an opening to allow the body to get rid of waste and a stomach tube for feeding.

Joshua and Jacob have been at the hospital since their birth, because the two have numerous health problems such as heart defects and congenital anomalies.

Last month, a team of 34 specialists, nurses and doctors separated the twin’s  spinal cord and muscles.  After the separation, each needed gastrointestinal repairs.

Dr. Roy Bors-Koefoed, who is not part of the hospital, but specializes in high-risk obstetrics told CNN’s affiliate WMC that male twins are less likely to survive than female twins. There are bigger factors, too.

"How many organs are in common and what organs are in common will depend on whether they can be separated successfully where you can save both individuals," Bors-Koefoed told WMC in Memphis.

Next entry »
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Denise

    Ran…..Have you ever thought that it could be the parents? That they might have Health Insurance or did you assume that tax payers are paying the bill because they are African Americans? That is the problem with this country, we discriminate way too much. Would you have the same question if the kids were white?????????????

    September 15, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you Denise! Ran....Coupled with your slanted view and baseless assumption, I suppose you're also a Right to Lifer.

      September 15, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • arrown8606t

      Actually, she is a 28 year old single mother who already has 2 other children. She has no insurance and Medicaid is expected to pay the majority of the expenses (for those of you out of the loop, that means you and me). To take care of any bills that Medicaid doesn't pick up, there has been a fund started for her to take donations. Being that she is a single mother with 4 children now, 2 of whom will most likely require constant care, we will most likely also be paying for her welfare for the next 18 years.

      September 15, 2011 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
    • dj51

      Denise, Thank YOU!!!! It's a shame in the year 2011 we still can't rise above race/discrimination. A life saved, is a life no matter what race. I hope he is not assuming because the children are Af-Am they don't have medical insurance. What a totally worthless person.

      September 16, 2011 at 01:48 | Report abuse |
    • DesertRat

      arrown8606t: Site your source about the mom, please.

      BTW, my child gets Medicaid, a waiver. My hubby and I still maintain her private primary insurance, which doesn't pay for all of her therapies, etc. We are white, employed, and we are pouring everything we have into staying afloat with a special needs child. Get off your high horse, please.

      September 17, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • arrown8606t


      Also, the word is "cite" not "site". And I don't care if you're white, black, green or purple. Shut down the baby factory until you can provide for them.

      September 17, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      So, arrow, was this woman always single, or did her man take of either before hand, or when learning of this development? You seem to know. As for this operation, many separated co-joined twins do not "constant" care. It's to early to tell, and who knows what they've done, or are going to do. Unless they called your bank to let you know through you personal statements. So give your wallet a big kiss, not those babies though, heavens! That would make people like you human instead of little weasels.

      September 17, 2011 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • Unamazed at the level of stupidity

      So just because an individual does not have health insurance they should be barred from having children? How utterly repugnant of you. Besides, Medicaid pays pennies on the dollar for OP charges and a per diem rate for IP charges. So the most that they will pay per day is probably about 1/5th of what the hospital charges. You should be more concerned with the money that your taxes go topay Congress's salary and LIFETIME health insurance when they have done nothing since the election but hold up one bill after the next. Even in this day and age there are still trolls who need to worry about peoples race instead of the real issues that are facing us ALL.

      September 18, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  2. Amy

    Ran, in this age of medical marvels, that is your first and only comment? What a testament to modern science that we can perform this type of procedure and save both lives!
    Who is paying for their care does not concern you. Although, if you are truly concerned about their medical bills, I'm sure the family will gladly take a donation.

    September 15, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chris C from the D

    Her insurance, maybe?

    September 15, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LaShadrian

    Oh My Goodness Thank Godd That They Are Okay That Was Nothing But The Grace Of Him. They Are So Pretty

    September 15, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ashley

      i aM youR oppositE.

      September 16, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • LaLOL

      thaT madE mE laugH. thanK yoU.

      September 16, 2011 at 19:47 | Report abuse |
    • JanetMermaid

      First, Ashley, thanks for that! Very funny.

      Second, LaShadrian, "thank Godd [sic]". Really? I'd say it was god that made them with so many problems. Seems it was the DOCTORS who performed the miracles. Christians always have it backwards. They praise their god for saving them from things only he/it could have caused and never thank the humans who did all the work reversing their god's actions.

      September 17, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    Stephanie, way to reward one ignorant assumption with another

    September 15, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. T for Texas

    Probably a Tea Bagger, I mean, A Tea Party Member.

    September 15, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. SJinCA

    Actually, the question about insurance is relevant. In the United States, we don't let poor children die. But how DO we pay for it? Answer: the government has ALWAYS subsidized cases like this, directly or indirectly, and it's expensive. The real challenge of health care is to figure out how to care for people before they become medical emergencies, and how to manage the funding requirements. If Obamacare had been presented as a way to get a grip on costs, instead of compassion, both liberals and conservatives could have embraced it.

    September 15, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack Be Humble

      One of the selling points of "Obamacare" was that it would lower health care costs. Republicans voted against it because Obama was for it. If Obama put forth a workable plan to resurrect Ronald Reagan from the dead, Republicans would vote against it because the guy has already done his share, and blame Obama for having a Voodoo Priestess for a great-aunt.

      September 15, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      The "Obamacare" plan was written by Senator Baucus (sp?), whose campaign dollars all came from the health insurance industry, who wrote the entire plan (with plenty of loopholes). We did not get a universal health plan. However, the use of "compassion" was probably done to attract the Republican "Christians." My Bible has a lot about mercy, including direct commands: "Heal the sick." As a Christian myself, I am surprised that compassion was not a selling point for others who profess the same religion. Yes, the extreme cases have always been funded by the government and private groups, but maybe not for a few years. In Texas, before he was President, George W. Bush stopped helping babies with extreme lung disorders to save money, and now the Arizona governor has killed people that were supposed to receive transplants (yep, it's premeditated). Remember all those cases we used to hear about where children from other countries were brought to America to fix something? Strange that you don't hear about that anymore; I think it is because Americans are quick to point out friends and family who couldn't get similar operations and died.

      September 18, 2011 at 23:34 | Report abuse |
  8. DemInMD

    Well, according to audience at the Monday night Tea Party Express, if the parents did not have the resources to pay for care for their children (through insurance, savings, etc.), the children should have to just live with the situation. According to Ron Paul, it should be up to friends, neighbors, churches, or other charitable organizations. Aren't we as a nation better than that?

    September 15, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WhoKnewIt


      Actually, the answer to your question would be no, we're not....

      September 15, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      I am Christian, but those who refuse to heal the sick are something else.

      September 18, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse |
  9. Thomas

    The comment about payment is on point. I'm from Memphis; it is very hard not to discriminate here. I live for the 5% of the time when my gut feeling is wrong. It's sad, and I have no idea how it will change anytime soon. I'm happy these babies lived, but I am curious where they will be next year.

    September 15, 2011 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. smyrnauser

    ran what does it matter? geesh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2011 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. wxbuggin

    Amazing what medicine can do....What precious little ones! Much love to them!

    September 15, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I, too, hope and pray that they do well. I am glad that, even with all the ugliness now in this country, there are some very dedicated and loving health care professionals who will do anything they can to save lives.

      September 18, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse |
  12. dj51

    My prayers go out the these babies and their family. Much love to each of you. Praying for a good recovery according to God's Will.

    September 16, 2011 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. H. Allen

    How heartless. If the babies were yours, would cost be a concern?

    September 16, 2011 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. bob

    they will live

    September 16, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Don F.

    But the issue of cost is very real and has a profound impact on insurance costs especially for small pools even with stop loss coverage. I personally know of on company in which insurance premiums went up 30% in one year after two million dollar neonatal cases. Personally I am willing to make that contribution for that benefit, but realisticly there is no way I or anyone esle can do that that year after year. DO NOT consture this to mean that I begrudge these boys appropriate and adaquit treatment for their situation. But such treatment comes at a cost and there is a point at which we will not be able to afford some forms of treatment and that some forms of treatment have a high probability of failing. (These two are often linked together.) Like it or not, individuals, groups, societies can not continue to provide any treatment at any cost with any probablilty of success. Sooner or later it will exhaust the resources at any of these three levels. Fifty years ago this issue was decided for us by the limits of medical technology. As technology advances the issue is getting more accute and the line is increasingly forced upon us. We will always be able to extend, facilitate, enhance life by spending more dollars, but there is a point in one way or another that the dollars simply run out.

    Politicians hype this with fear mongering about "death committees" and health care rationing. But this situation can not and will not scale. To put is personally, it is appropriate for me to put a $1,000,000 burden on my family, my fellow employees, my fellow insureees, my courntry so that I can add 1 year to my life?

    Yes, such considerations are ugly and messy, but they are very real. Just ask any combat general who has to make life and death decisions that affect not only the troops under him/her but also the civilians in the theater of his purview.

    Heh, I am the first to advocate extending significant resources to protect the weak, unfortunate, and vulnerable among us but I also know that this model does not scale to all individuals, in all situations, at any cost, and with any outcome.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Maimonida

    For Ran and his company: I think that moral values and humanism shall mean something. I think that people and oftentimes are wearing formal values on their sleeve and in reality are unhuman and hartless, especially politicians. It is shame to measure success of this operation that is expending horizons of science and helping to 2 innocent children with only criteron "Who is paying"

    September 16, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. sami

    What is your suggestion? Throw them in the trash? And if one or both grow up to cure you of what ails you? You'll be lucky.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bile Gran Vieira Correa

    Very good Doctors,,,, great job ! I really hope that everything goes well with thse little babies.....God bless you all

    September 16, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ella

    For the people who are talking about insurance and who will pay, I don't know if the mother has insurance or not and it doesn't matter. Where do you think the insurance money comes from anyway? It comes from the company who is paid by the people. So no matter what, the people pay. I'm glad these boys lived. Just imagine if it was your child. Would you refuse financial help? Doubt it. Don't criticize other people for needing things when you may need them too one day. And I'm white and more conservative than liberal. So, no, I'm not just siding with people like me.

    September 16, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. jburns

    How sad it is some people are so negative and worry about what things like this will cost them. I hope you never need help or any kind of assistance from anyone. Bless these beautiful children and may they lead long happy lives. I for one would be more than happy to help with their financial needs.

    September 16, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. mauibear

    Really? Don't be so stupid

    September 16, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Lindalou

    I don't understand republicans and tea baggers. They are pro-life, but once that child is born, the hell with them. Are they only a protected being while still in the womb?

    September 16, 2011 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • orchidgirl

      Yeah, apparently they think that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

      September 17, 2011 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Although it's O.K. for them if the mother starves during the pregnancy.

      September 18, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
  23. fernace

    I hope these precious babies heal & are able to enjoy a rich, full life! If my tax $$ are helping to foot their hospital cost, I'm more than happy to know that it's going to such a good cause! Ran needs to grow a conscience, too bad surgery can't help him/her with that!!

    September 16, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nairobi gurl.

      @Ran, I hope one of those twins marry your daughter later in life...DON'T worry father- in- laws.

      September 16, 2011 at 19:17 | Report abuse |
  24. Dan

    I have been reading hte blogs here and I am sorry about my viewpoint. M epersonally, I don't want to be a burden to anybody and I always want to pull my own weight. When I see something like this, it's hard for me to take a real position on it. What I really have a problem with is seeing all these people on public assistance without a care in the world. I see people having children who have no idea how to raise them so theres another generation coming that's more screwed up than the last. I see counries who's system obviously works better than ours and they have been doing the same things, the same way for thousands of years. I just feel that our country is falling and failing little by little, year after year, and almost nobody wants to do anything about it because they just don't want to. It's easier to just conform, and lets things get worse.

    September 16, 2011 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I am so glad that these babies have a chance to live. I've seen some people really try to make a difference.
      If you are concerned about breaking the cycle, how about volunteering at local elementary schools as reading instruction tutor and helper? If there is a cycle of ignorance, a parent is unable to read to a child, and then the child does not hear or see books and vocabulary until they are way behind the other students. Help make a positive difference among all children, starting at the youngest grades, and later on, the cycle of poverty will break.

      September 18, 2011 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
  25. craig

    When you, or a member of your family stumbles from your high and mighty place, we will be sure to ask the same questions of your situation. God I hate cliches, but what is it about those who live in glass houses? Lets also remember that by dealing with medical situations like these, things are learned and can be applied to other situations. It's called progress.

    September 17, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. craig

    HEY DON F. Great thinking. I am in the Health Insurance field and I have to say you are a little off base, but on the right track. It's situations like these which insurance is designed to help- the rare 1 in a million situations. Whats driving costs up are lifestyle driven. If people quit smoking, lost a few lbs, moved around a bit and got off the couch, rates would go down A LOT. Couple this with more people purchasing insurance, rates could go down 40% QUICKLY. Any kind of insurance- life, auto, health- requires huge numbers of participants to offset utilization.

    September 17, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. DesertRat

    Try visiting a NICU, Ran.

    This is the exact situation insurance (private or public) is supposed to cover. (And for the record, I'm a die-hard conservative.) There are also private organizations that exist to help offset the costs involved. There is, however, a huge benefit of treating cases like these aside from the moral and societal ones–increased medical knowledge that benefits all. My child was born with a birth defect that is still 60% fatal–she was saved, in part, by techniques and technology that did not exist even 20 years ago. Those techniques didn't come up in a laboratory, they were a result of clinical trial.

    September 17, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. pat

    Craig, from the "I think I'm great cause I'm in the insurance field–
    It's blather-ers like you that distort the real reason insurance has gone up and what causes the hikes– greed. NOT the smokers, the over eaters, etc. etc. It's greedy insurance companies that are taking a big chunk for themselves and saying "to hell" with the rest of the country. Who the hell can survive with the amount of money taken out of paychecks for insurance?? There has got to be a better way. The insurance company is full of guys like you who go out to broker lunches, dinners, and drink your way through the perks. So, stop with the finger shaking at us. People get sick!

    September 17, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. realist

    Lets get real. From the description given of all the things that are still wrong with these kids, neither of them will ever learn to walk because each has lost half its lower spine. They will poop into bags for however long they live. They will require repeated surgeries as they grow (if they grow). They will never have anything even remotely resembling a normal life. Are all of you "Oh what a wonderful thing!" folks even aware of all those factors, and would you really feel proud of saddling those poor babies with that kind of life? Still, I believe this operation may actually result in them living for a shorter time now that they are separated than they would if left together. In that light it should be viewed as a good thing. Those of you who are thanking God (whom I definitely believe exists) that the children have been, uh, "saved" should also send up a bunch of prayers demanding that God explain why He would allow such a horrible thing to happen. Perhaps the only way we as humans are ever going to be able to stop God from doing this type of thing is if we all confront Him and demand that He stop!

    The saddest part of the whole thing is that even if the mother had been well educated and able to understand the horror of these kids' future, she would not have been allowed to do the merciful thing and just let the kids die. Our wonderful Socialistic society would have prosecuted her to the max and the kids would have had the ill-advised operation anyway.

    September 18, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. pearl

    whatever the consequences are,we donate if we wanrt to,we dont need to argue for the sake of the twins.they didnt know,neither wanted to be borned like that.they are human that need love,respect like us.praise GOD they are now ok. CONGRATS TO ALL DOCTORS AND NURSES and to all who were there to help. GOD ALWAYS GUIDE AND BLESS YOU!!

    October 8, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. zortilo nrel

    Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may I am getting that type of information written in such an ideal way? I have a mission that I am simply now running on, and I have been on the glance out for such info.


    December 22, 2020 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. zortilonrel

    Hi there I am so happy I found your weblog, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a tremendous post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the great job.


    December 29, 2020 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. froleprotrem

    I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I'm now not sure whether this publish is written through him as nobody else realize such certain about my trouble. You are amazing! Thank you!


    December 30, 2020 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. frolep rotrem

    I am extremely inspired with your writing talents and also with the layout on your weblog. Is that this a paid topic or did you modify it your self? Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice weblog like this one today..


    January 23, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Europa-Road traktor szállítás

    When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Appreciate it!


    February 9, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Cardiff House Clearance

    I think this is one of the most vital information for me. And i am happy studying your article. However wanna observation on some basic issues, The web site taste is wonderful, the articles is actually excellent : D. Good process, cheers


    February 9, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. brujos en linea

    I am now not certain where you are getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or figuring out more. Thank you for excellent information I used to be searching for this information for my mission.


    February 11, 2021 at 05:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ClarkTauts

    og42g t1zfu 6s44

    February 28, 2021 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply

Leave a Reply to DesertRat


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.