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November 29, 2002

Recovery delays trip for twins

From: Daily Oklahoman, OK - 29 Nov 2002

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The return home of twin girls formerly connected at the head has been delayed, but they could be back in their native Guatemala by Christmas, doctors say.

Maria de Jesus and Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez, who are 16 months old, were expected to leave Los Angeles late last month, but medical complications have delayed their departure.

The latest setback came Wednesday, when doctors at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital announced that Maria de Jesus' scalp hadn't healed fully.

Doctors also have learned that Maria Teresa is partially deaf in one ear, probably as a consequence of the 23-hour surgery to separate the sisters.

This week, doctors reported that the twins are thriving and continue to improve with physical therapy.

"We expect them to spend Christmas in their home country," said Dr. Jorge Lazareff, chief neurosurgeon for the twins' medical team.

The girls were born in rural Guatemala but will live in Guatemala City once home. There, the 16- month-old girls face follow-up surgeries to gradually stretch their scalps to eliminate the skin grafts and allow them to grow full heads of hair.

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