Connect Newsletter (Jan. 26, 2023): Special Edition!
Jan. 26, 2023
Welcome to a special edition of our Connect Newsletter. This newsletter is dedicated entirely to the history-making surgery to separate conjoined twins at Cook Children's Medical Center - Fort Worth.
Sisters JamieLynn and AmieLynn underwent surgery on Monday, becoming the first conjoined twins to be separated at Cook Children's Medical Center. We encourage you to take the time to read their story and watch an incredible video that you will never forget. We promise this will be your worth your time.
The surgical team announced to the world their landmark achievement on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Their press conference caught the attention of the world (more on that below). Click here to watch the entire video and read the story that details the surgery.
José L. Iglesias, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Surgery, was JamieLynn’s primary surgeon and team leader in Monday’s surgery. During his 22 years at Cook Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Iglesias has been instrumental in the advancement of surgical procedures through the use of technology and minimally invasive surgery. He also specializes in chest wall deformities, congenital malformations of the abdomen and chest, vascular anomalies, tumors, gastrointestinal and genitourinary issues.
Marty Knott, D.O., Ph.D. was AmieLynn’s primary surgeon. Although this was his first time to separate conjoined twins, Dr. Knott brought experience in operating on chest wall deformities, congenital malformations of the abdomen and chest, abdominal wall defects, tumors, bowels and vascular anomalies. He has worked for Cook Children’s for seven years.
Uzoma “Ben” Gbulie, M.D., FACS, has been caring for AmieLynn Rose and JamieLynn Rae Finley since before they were even born. He was one of the first doctors the twins’ parents consulted after finding out their girls were joined at the lower sternum and abdomen.
“I’ve been looking out for these babies since they were in the womb. I spent a lot of time studying intrauterine ultrasounds and MRI images even before they were born. They’re basically like family to me,” Dr. Gbulie said.
As the Surgeon-in- Chief for Cook Children’s Healthcare System, Eric Hubli, M.D. knows that every surgery needs a backup plan. In many cases, one backup plan is not enough.
“The key to a really good surgeon is the ability to adapt. When operations move in a unique or unexpected direction, you have to be able to create plans b, c, d and e,” Dr. Hubli said.
During the separation procedure for 16-week-old conjoined twins AmieLynn and JamieLynn Finley, multiple layers of plans were considered and vetted in order to give the girls a chance at life on their own. Dr. Hubli has been a colleague and champion for surgeons at Cook Children’s for the past 15 years. Now he is part of a multispecialty team that came together in an effort to understand and manage every nuance of the separation surgery.
Dr. Hubli’s primary role before the surgery was to assist the other surgeons with the organizational process to remove any barriers so their vision could be realized.
NICU Nurses Adapt for Unique Needs of Conjoined Twins
Conjoined twins AmieLynn and JamieLynn Finley won the hearts of the nurses who fed, diapered and bathed the girls a little differently from other babies in the Cook Children’s NICU.
For the first three and a half months of their lives, AmieLynn and JamieLynn were joined from their breastbones to their bellies. The girls could lie only on their sides, face to face, because their chest/abdomen areas were connected. Caring for them in the NICU required some modification of the usual tools and techniques for infants.
We want to thank everyone for their collaboration, hard work and dedication to making this incredible miracle of science and medicine a reality. Please click here to leave a comment for the members of the surgical team that made history and we will pass them along.
Team A (JamieLynn)
Team B (Amie Lynn
Team C (backup on standby)
The Story Heard Round the World
It's safe to say the news of Monday's surgery is everywhere. We’ve been mentioned in stories via online, TV and radio for the last 24 hours with millions of views across the world.
We don't have space to post every story or social media mention, but we do want to show you some key stories so far:
After watching the segment on CBS Mornings today, Gayle King said, "Shout out to Dr. Iglesias and the whole team who pulled that off. You have to marvel at what medicine can do... something they've never done before. As a parent you think 'OK, you've never done this before' and the trust you have to put in them.... it's a great, great, great story. We needed a story like this."
We want to offer a special recognition and thank you to Bannie Tabor, M.D., for his involvement in making this surgery at Cook Children's a reality.
“A longtime close colleague, and maternal fetal medicine physician, Dr. Bannie Tabor, reached out to me to tell me that he was following a mother with conjoined twins. Surprised by this once-in-a-lifetime phone call, I agreed to meet with mom and dad in our office prenatally. At that time, a fetal MRI showed favorable anatomy for separation,” said José L. Iglesias, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Surgery at Cook Children's.
For 32 years as a maternal-fetal specialist, Dr. Tabor has cared for women with high-risk pregnancies in Tarrant County and beyond at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. He’s delivered more than 5,000 babies and said bringing AmieLynn and JamieLynn into the world is one of the many highlights of his long and storied career.
Dr. Tabor met Finley and Arciniega early in her pregnancy. The initial referral to his practice came from a local OB/Gyn who Dr. Tabor unashamedly describes as “very talented” — his daughter, Lauren Tabor, M.D. She conducted Arciniega’s first ultrasound where the couple learned they were having twins.
After taking on Arciniega and her twins as patients, he placed a phone call to Jose Iglesias, M.D., Cook Children’s pediatric surgeon, initiating the collaboration of the multi-specialty care team in this case. Dr. Tabor’s expert prenatal care, coupled with the long-time close relationship between Texas Health Fort Worth and Cook Children’s, made the care of Arciniega and her twins possible from before birth through separation and beyond.
In addition to leading his own practice, Dr. Tabor is the medical director of Cook Children’s Fetal Center. When an unborn baby is known to have a serious medical condition, the Fetal Center provides diagnostic services, delivery planning and post-birth medical interventions. Mandy Little, BSN, RN, RNC-MNN, Cook Children’s fetal nurse coordinator, was an important part of JamieLynn's and AmieLynn’s care team. Special thanks to Dr. Tabor and Mandy for their involvement in this very special story.
Bravery—investing our love in children when the only certainty is that our future together is unknown; creating high tech gizmos to figure out the best ways to care for our patients; trusting strangers with our babies simply because the strangers said they would try their best; shifting our focus away from a professional milestone to reflect on the fragility of humanity by painting tiny fingernails—bravery.
Blessed are you who keep showing up every time you are blindsided by the unthinkable; you are brave.
Miraculous—in modern medicine; with 25 medical providers agreeing to wear two, very specific colors; through fear and peace, uncertainty and intentionality, all coexisting in the midst of hopeful collaboration; by the sound of parental voices erasing every worry from babies who cannot yet articulate their woes—miraculous.
Blessed are you who make space for science and the sacred to coincide; you are miracle makers.
Hope—from two little girls whose entire life has been a loving embrace; by staff who adapted to the needs of a special set of sisters and their parents; in the holy words offered to facilitate healing to the belief that what is may not always be—hope.
AmieLynn and JamieLynn—blessed are you who are separate, but never apart; never alone; and forever sacred.