Working in Mayo Clinic's public affairs department, I don't get to have as much daily interaction directly with patients and their families as our medical staff members do (although with our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, I'm now having more of these opportunities.) But in one special year, starting in February 2006, I was part of the team that managed the media interest in three sets of conjoined twins who were successfully separated at Mayo Clinic.
Stacy and Suzy Fitterer of Bismarck, North Dakota brought their daughters Abygail and Madysen to Mayo Clinic in the later part of 2006. On October 3 they had an operation to insert tissue expanders underneath their skin, which were gradually filled over the next several weeks with saline solution. The purpose was to ensure that there would be enough skin to close the incisions after they were separated.
Exactly three months after the tissue expander operation, on January 3, 2007, the girls were wheeled to the operating room to be separated in a day-long series of procedures:
In late February, Abygail and Madysen and their parents (with brother, Nick) said goodbye to the staff involved in their care...
...and returned home to Bismarck, where the girls have continued to receive regular care and physical therapy from local providers. They return to Rochester twice a year for check-ups, the most recent of which was yesterday.
Suzy had contacted me in advance of their visit, asking if we could get her some copies of videos and photos taken as part of the news coverage. I asked if she would be willing to share a video update on the girls' progress for all the people who had taken an interest in their situation. Between their appointments yesterday, I had a few moments of conversation with Suzy and with Abygail (Madysen was mainly in napping mode.)
While Abygail had some misconceptions about their relative ages, it's clear that she and Madysen are -- as Suzy said -- normal two-year olds. It was great getting to see them again.
If you know people who would appreciate seeing this update, you can pass it along through Facebook or other sharing sites using the sharing toolbar below. Or, you could just do it the old-fashioned (90s) way, and copy and paste the URL above into an email.
Lee Aase is manager of syndication and social media at Mayo Clinic.