Separation of conjoined twins in London children's hospital ‘a Moses moment’

Parents of Derman and Yigit Evrensel were told their children might not survive operation

Surgeons at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital spoke of the “Moses moment” of safely separating the brains of conjoined twins from Turkey in January.

A mini-documentary following the operation of one-year-old twins Derman and Yigit Evrensel at the world renowned children’s hospital was screened on Channel 4 on Thursday evening.

Derman and Yigit, who were born the city of Antalya, were joined at the head and their parents were told that to do nothing would shorten the boys’ lives.

But experts warned that the twins might not survive an operation.

After Turkish doctors contacted orthopaedic surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the twins were taken to the UK in December last year and underwent three operations.

Derman and Yigit Evrensel will celebrate their second birthday on June 21. Getty Images
Derman and Yigit Evrensel will celebrate their second birthday on June 21. Getty Images

A team of more than 100 medical staff were involved in the separation, which involved more than 40 hours of surgery.

The twins, who will celebrate their second birthday on June 21, were finally separated on January 28.

“After more than 20 hours of surgery, we finally got to a point when the retractor went in and we were lifting one of the brains,” lead surgeon Owase Jeelani told Channel 4.

"It almost parted from the other brain completely.

“It was a bit like a ‘Moses moment’, where the Red Sea parted and you could see a path that was almost like a ray of light.

"When the two brains parted you could see clearly between them.”

After the boy’s heads were reconstructed and they were given some months to recover from the operation, the family were able to fly home from London’s Luton Airport on Wednesday morning.

Fatma Evrensel, the mother of the two boys, described the rollercoaster of emotions she felt when she saw them in the hospital beds after they had been separated.

“It was the most unforgettable moment," Ms Evrensel said. "When I was going there it was like I was on a cloud.”

She said she was grateful her two boys survived the operation and were safe and recovering.

“The future is going to be good," Ms Evrensel said. "Thank God the children have their health back.

"At first, Derman was quite calm and Yigit was more active, but now Yigit is calm and Derman is more active. Their characters have changed.”

After arriving at Esenboga airport in the Turkish capital Ankara, the twins' father Omer Evrensel said: “Our babies have no problems.

Craniofacial surgeon David Dunaway and paediatric neurosurgeon Noor Ul Owase Jeelani. Great Ormond Street Hospital. GOSH
Craniofacial surgeon David Dunaway and paediatric neurosurgeon Noor Ul Owase Jeelani. Great Ormond Street Hospital. GOSH

“There is no problem in their eating and drinking, everything is normal. They'll start life again, they're almost reborn. We'll start everything from scratch.”

Updated: June 12, 2020 08:18 AM

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