MELBOURNE: Formerly conjoined Bangladeshi twins Trishna and Krishna left hospital on Monday, after Australian doctors who separated their fused brains decided they should celebrate their third birthday at home.
The girls, who were born joined at the head, have amazed medics with their recovery since a complex, 32-hour operation to separate them five weeks ago.
“We are absolutely delighted with their progress,” Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital neurosurgeon Wirginia Maixner said of the girls, who turn three on Tuesday.
“I look forward to seeing them live a long and happy life — that's my wish for them.”
Trishna and Krishna were brought to Melbourne two years ago after they were discovered in a Dhaka orphanage by Australian aid workers who realised they faced certain death unless they received intensive medical care.
Arriving in Australia dangerously ill, the twins were nursed back to health by their guardians and staff at the Royal Children's Hospital who prepared them for the marathon separation surgery.
Although the girls were given only a 25 percent chance of them both surviving the difficult operation without brain damage, both have a shown remarkable resilience since the surgery.
They are now finding their feet, a change from their old habit of crawling around on their backs, and doctors believe they have come through the operation without serious neurological damage.
They were given an emotional and tearful farewell from the hospital's neuroscience centre on Monday as they were pushed in two strollers by Australian guardian Moira Kelly and carer Maria Mardi.
“I'm so grateful to all the staff at the Royal Children's Hospital,” Kelly said. “They have given these two little girls a new life. I can't wait to take them home.”
The girls will spend their first night out of hospital at the Children First Foundation, the charity run by Kelly which brought them to Australia and organised their surgery.
“My life really begins today, theirs started five weeks ago,” Kelly told reporters. “I think when these little girls put their heads down on a soft pillow tonight it will become a bit more real.”
Kelly said she believed her prayers to the woman set to become Australia's first Catholic saint, beatified nun Mary MacKillop who died in 1909, helped the girls.
“Mary MacKillop has certainly I believe played a big role in this,” Kelly said
In Bangladesh, the biological mother of the twins, Lovely Mallick, told AFP she was “delighted” at the news of the release and wished them healthy lives.
Mallick, 22, gave up Trishna and Krishna soon after their birth because there was no way she and her husband could care for the sickly newborns. She has said she is happy for them to stay in Australia.
“I wish I could see them now. Krishna and Trishna are always in my thoughts,” she said.
“I don't have the money, but I one day, I hope, I will be able to visit them in Australia just to see how they are doing.”
The story of the conjoined twins born into poverty and brought to Australia for life-saving surgery made headlines around the country, and the hospital was inundated with so many gifts for the children they had to ask that well-wishers direct their presents to the Children First Foundation.
The girls, who will receive weekly check-ups at the hospital, are likely to receive more presents on Tuesday when they celebrate their first birthday as separate children.
Kelly, a twin herself, said while there would be two birthday cakes the event would be a “small and humble” celebration. SAMAA