Conjoined twins, Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Shilongonyane born joined at the abdomen on 2 January this year, with their mother 19-year-old Bongekile Simelane, minutes before they underwent their separation surgery at Netcare Unitas Hospital in Centurion.

The happy parents of formerly conjoined twin girls Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Sihlongonyane have expressed relief that their daughters’ surgery has been successfully completed.

The newly born twin girls, who underwent a successful six-hour separation operation on Saturday after being born conjoined at the abdomen, are in a stable condition.

Sister Irene Buitendag, unit manager of the paediatric intensive care unit at Netcare Unitas Hospital where the babies underwent the surgery revealed this.

“It was a big operation for two tiny babies. Uwenzile and Uyihlelile are being ventilated, under sedation and at present are being fed intravenously,” she said.

The twins were born on January 2, weighing 4.21kg, to 19-year-old Bongekile Simelane and her husband Mbongeni Sihlongonyane, from Big Bend in Swaziland.

A study in soulful concentration as Dr Henrika Rossouw prepares baby, Uyihlelile Shilongonyane for anaesthesia.

Paediatric surgeon Dr Mariza de Villiers said the twins were joined only by a bridge of skin, which made the operation simpler than if they shared vital organs.

“There are always risks when separating conjoined twins, but we have been cautiously optimistic,” she said. “The skin bridge between them meant there was sufficient skin to close the surgical wound on each baby without the need for plastic surgery.”

Dr Paul Stevens said a pediatric surgeon on the case, one of the main challenges the surgical team expected was related to the anaesthesia. An all-female team of four anaesthetists participated in the procedure due to this challenge.

The paediatric surgeons were assisted by Dr Francisca van der Schyff and Dr Kagiso Batka.