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Separation surgery looks promising for Kingman twins

The conjoined twins born in Phoenix this summer are growing healthy and strong.

The boys, named Alex and Angel, weigh 6 pounds 6 ounces each. They are eating well and sleeping well and acting normally for their age.

The best news is coming from the medical team that is studying Alex and Angel with the goal of ultimately separating them.

“We haven’t learned anything that would be prohibitive to us being able to separate them,” said Dr. Stuart Lacey, a pediatric surgeon at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The process is likely to take place within the next six to nine months.

The babies are joined from the bottom of their chests to the bottom of their torsos. They share liver tissue, but that is something Lacey is confident can be worked out in surgery.

Doctors will need to construct abdominal walls for each boy, as well, and complications with their large intestines are anticipated.

One of the bigger challenges for Alex and Angel may be in their hips and pelvic bones, where doctors note fusion.

When explaining this to the parents on Tuesday, Lacey said, “I’m not sure if that’s going to be a big problem, or just a problem we’re going to have to deal with.”

The boys’ parents, Ashley Frank and Johnny Mendoza, who live in Kingman, have moved to Phoenix to be closer to the twins, who are in the neonatal intensive care unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

When Frank went to see her doctor in May, it was simply to learn the sex of the one child she thought she was carrying. The ultrasound indicated she was pregnant with twins.

Upon closer examination, her doctor realized the children were joined.

The babies were delivered in August by Caesarean section with a team of more than 20 doctors and nurses standing by to help if necessary.

Fortunately, the birth was fairly uneventful.

Eventually, Frank and Mendoza will take the boys home to their Phoenix apartment. The children will get outpatient treatment until it’s time to separate them.

The boys are just 50 days old today, and Frank says they have started showing plenty of personality.

“Oh, definitely,” she said. “Angel, it turns out, is a real devil.”

Frank and Mendoza know their boys will face difficult challenges, but they take heart in that doctors keep assuring them the children are fundamentally healthy.

“I can’t wait till they get bigger, and we can separate them,” Mendoza said. “I know it will be a long process, but I can’t wait to take them to the park and play soccer with them.”


How to help

If you would like to help the twins and their family, an account has been set up at a bank in Kingman.

Donations are being accepted for account #6107801059, in the name of the Mendoza twins, at Mohave State Bank, 2202 Hualapai Mountain Road, Kingman, AZ 86401.

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