Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said Monday that the twins have been discharged, ending an emotional 485-day stay at the hospital where they were born in summer 2016.
For 15 months, the girls had remained in the hospital. Now, they are headed home, to Mooresville, North Carolina, with their parents - "just in time for the holidays," their mother, Heather Delaney, said in a statement released by the hospital.
Delaney called her daughters "inspiring," adding: "As their parents, it is very neat for Riley and me to have a front-row seat to this and watch them overcome these incredible obstacles. We cannot wait to see what their future holds!"
Abby and Erin were born prematurely by C-section July 24, 2016.
Since then, the twins have lived at the hospital, where in June they underwent a complicated 11-hour surgery during which surgeons worked to untangle blood vessels and separate the brain's outermost membrane and the sagittal sinus, which carries blood to the heart. The hospital said at the time that it had separated 23 other pairs of conjoined twins over the years - but never a pair of craniopagus twins, those who are connected at the head.
"This is one of the earliest separations of craniopagus conjoined twins ever recorded," Jesse Taylor, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the hospital, said in a previous statement. "We know that children heal better and faster the younger they are, therefore our goal for Erin and Abby was separation as soon as possible with minimum number of surgeries."
Last month, Heather Delaney recounted the ordeal in a gut-wrenching blog post ahead of the girls' homecoming, remembering when "feeling helpless was the new normal."
She posted pictures showing the infants tangled in a mess of tubes and wires.
She said there were moments when Erin would stop breathing and her heart rate would drop, or when Abby would scream and her small body would start shaking because her brain was bleeding.
"All you want to do is will your child to get better because that is all you can do," she wrote.
Following months of recovery and rehabilitation, Heather Delaney said Abby can roll onto her stomach, hold up her head and turn pages in books.
Erin, she said, can sit up on her own and, last month, was starting to think about crawling - learning to hold herself up on her hands and knees.
The twins' mother said in her blog post last month that Erin had been discharged from the hospital but that Abby still had "a little ways to go."
"She then needs a few more weeks of rehab and then hopefully, God willing, we will be headed home for the holidays!!!" she said about Abby. "We will hopefully be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas at home this year and we are beyond thrilled about it! Granted things happen and I can't say for sure that that will happen but Erin is already discharged and that's half the battle. So now all we need to do is get Abby discharged and we will be headed back to good ole' North Carolina!!!"
The hospital said Monday that the twins were sent home, and though they will need more surgeries as they grow, their medical team "is optimistic about their progress so far and about their long-term potential."
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