It was a long-hoped-for dream: Eight-month-old formerly conjoined twins Jacob and Joshua Spates, who were born connected at the pelvis and lower spine, are finally able to look at each other face-to-face.
In other positive news, Dr. Max Langham, lead general surgeon of the 13-hour, Aug. 29 operation in Memphis’s Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, said of the boys: “Not only are they healthy, but both of them are using their legs and beginning to crawl,” reports the city’s Commercial Appeal.
As their mother, Adrienne Spates, kissed and played with the “wide-eyed” infants Wednesday morning, the newspaper reports, she said, “Hey, Jacob, you see your brother?” It was the first time they had.
Wednesday was considered something of a coming-out day for Joshua and Jacob, whose story was prominently covered on the morning shows both in the U.S. and the U.K. Overflowing with emotion, their mom hugged members of the staff in the hospital.
A single mother, Spates, 28, has two other children. Last November an ultrasound revealed she was carrying conjoined twins, and they were born via C-section two months later.
“It was scary,” Spates said of the high-risk births. “We could’ve lost them.”
Conjoined twins occur in one out of 100,000 births, according to statistics.
“Most conjoined twins don’t ever get a chance to get to separation because they die from complications at delivery,” said Dr. Langham.
No dollar amount has been revealed, but the estimated cost of the separation operation – which required a medical team of 34 and a month of pre-planning – was said to be astronomical. While Medicaid will cover much of it, the Joshua and Jacob Spates Trust has been established at First Tennessee Bank to help with supplemental assistance for the twins.
Spates said that although Jacob is still too frail to hold, her sons already are displaying two distinct personalities. She added: “I see us becoming a family soon. … I know I was chosen for this. And if I was chosen, I can do it.”