A year ago, Knatalye and Adeline Mata lay on an operating table at Texas Children’s Hospital conjoined from the chest to the pelvis. For the next 26 hours, a team of surgeons and support staff separated the girls in an historic and intricate procedure meticulously choreographed to ensure that each step of the process would lead to and support the steps to come. Throughout the procedure, the Mata family stood by, waiting and praying for good news.
Just before 10 a.m. on February 18, 2015 the family counted their prayers as answered when they saw their girls, apart for the first time in adjacent rooms in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where they were cared for by a team of specialized nurses. Since then, the almost 2-year-old twins have been discharged from the hospital and are living relatively normal lives in Littlefield, Texas with their parents Elysse and John Eric, 6-year-old brother Azariah and 5-month-old sister, Mia.
“The girls are both doing awesome,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, one of the lead surgeons in the separation case. “Neither have experienced any complications and both are making steady progress.”
Knatalye is beginning to walk, talk and eat by mouth. Adeline is meeting milestones as well. Her lungs are continuing to improve and she is slowly being weaned from ventilator support. Both girls are still undergoing physical and occupational therapy.
Several members of the medical staff involved in the girl’s care got to see how much Adeline and Knatalye have grown and how far they’ve come during a recent visit the Mata family made to Texas Children’s for follow-up appointments with pediatric subspecialists monitoring the twins’ health and development.
Aimee Renaudin, one of Adeline and Knatalye’s primary nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, said she is amazed that the girls are doing so well.
“You would never know how they started off their lives together,” she said. “Elysee and Eric have taken such good care of them.”
Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, the other lead surgeon in the separation case, said it’s a blessing to see how far Adeline and Knatalye have come.
“It’s always a joy to see the changes that have gone on,” he said. “They’ve gone from just being little babies to now trying to walk and talk and interact with you.”
John Eric said his daughters have far exceeded his expectations and that he and Elysee are enjoying being able to care for the girls at home.
“It’s nice to be able to have all of us together and to be able to wake up and know that they’re there,” Elysee said. “It’s fun to be able to be mom and dad, which we didn’t get to do for the first 10 months of their lives.”
The Mata family will return to Texas Children’s this summer for a checkup. During that visit, surgeons will operate on Knatalye, removing the metal struts used to stabilize her rib cage and to close her chest wall.
To read more about their journey click here. See photos from the Mata family’s latest visit to Texas Children’s below.