Surgeons have recently performed a 50 hour-operation to separate twins Safa and Marwa Ullah born with skulls and blood vessels fused together. A private donor paid for the surgery which required the commitment of 100 members of GOSH staff.

Safa (left) and Marwa Ullah underwent surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Pic: Patricia McHugh

Two-year-old sisters Safa and Marwa Ullah have undergone three main operations to separate their heads at Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH).

In October 2018, at only 19 months old, the girls underwent their first operation and the last one, during which they were finally separated, was carried out on 11 February.

The use of virtual reality and 3D Printing was crucial to ensure the operations went smoothly

Experts used virtual reality & 3D Printing to create an exact replica of the girls’ anatomy

In order to ensure the operations went smoothly, experts used virtual reality to create an exact replica of the girls’ anatomies. This enabled surgeons to visualise the complex structure of their skulls as well as the positioning of their brains and blood vessels, we can read on Guardian’s website.

Thereafter, they produce 3D Printed plastic models to practice before the theatre room.

“During further surgery, the girls started to bleed after clots formed in Safa’s neck veins and she began to shunt blood to her twin. Doctors were concerned they might lose Marwa during the operation after her heart rate fell. As a result of her complications, they gave her a key vein that the twins shared. But this had an impact on Safa, who had a stroke less than 12 hours later due to the loss of the vein”, our colleagues from Guardian relate.

The last operation required medics building new skulls using the girls’ bone. Surgeons also use tissue expanders to ensure each girl’s skin would stretch over the top of her head.

The girls’ mother, Zainab Bibi, said: “We are indebted to the hospital and to the staff and we would like to thank them for everything they have done. We are extremely excited about the future.”

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