Parenthood is both joyous and heartbreaking, and the parents of conjoined twins separated in Texas know that more than most!
Lorena Barrera and her husband, Alejandro Villalobos. already shared three boys when they got the news. Finding out that twin boys would be joining their family "surprised and excited" the couple
However, doctors soon shared that their conjoined babies would face major medical challenges during delivery and after birth. The family moved from their Las Vegas home to Houston in order to receive critical prenatal care from the medical experts at Texas Children's Fetal Center.
At 24 weeks' gestation, physicians used imaging to determine whether the boys could be separated after birth. They conducted regular ultrasounds, helpful in planning for a Cesarean birth. At 31 weeks, the team conducted a delivery simulation in order to rehearse all delivery protocols ahead of time. Thankfully, Lorena and Alejandro welcomed Lucas and Mateo-with a combined weight of 8 lbs., 4 ounces- on January 18, 2022!
With one huge medical hurdle behind them, the boys still faced several months of preparation before undergoing the extremely complicated surgical separation. According to Texas Children's, the brothers had a condition called ischiopagus twins. They shared multiple organs, including a colon and small intestine, and their bodies conjoined at the lower abdomen and pelvis.
Conjoined Twins Separated at Seven Months Old
Just shy of seven months after their birth on August 17, 2022, Lucas and Mateo underwent separation surgery. Texas Children's Hospital pediatric surgeon Dr. Alice King stated that the "incredible complex case" required assistance from "nearly every single surgical subspecialty" at the hospital. In fact, 26 medical professionals, including nurses, technicians, anesthesiologists, and surgeons from four different specialties, performed the 17-hour surgery.
A variety of medical teams continued to provide excellent care for Lucas and Mateo in the hospital. Then, doctors discharged the twins on October 26, 2022. And eight months later, doctors operated on one final time before sending the Villalobos Barrera family home to Las Vegas!
As Lucas and Mateo take their first steps, Mom and Dad share their appreciation for the care doctors provided at Texas Children's!
Mom Lorena said in a hospital news release, "It is from the hand of God that my children are here.”
"And wherever he went-into villages, towns or countryside-they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed." Mark 6:56