Formerly conjoined twins make debut at CHOP

Held by their parents Shellie and Greg Tucker, successfully separated conjoined twins Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker are introduced to the media during a press conference at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia December 20, 2102. Joining the family portrait are older brother Owen W. Tucker and attending surgeon Holly Hedrick. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Held by their parents Shellie and Greg Tucker, successfully separated conjoined twins Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker are introduced to the media during a press conference at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia December 20, 2102. Joining the family portrait are older brother Owen W. Tucker and attending surgeon Holly Hedrick. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 21, 2012

Shellie and Greg Tucker got their miracle on 34th street: their 9-month-old daughters, Allison and Amelia, are separate but whole.

The formerly conjoined twins made their public debut Thursday at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on 34th Street, six weeks after surgery successfully separated their shared chest wall, diaphragm, heart sac and liver.

The blonde babies - Allison in Mom's arms and Amelia in Dad's - sported matching zebra print shirts, flowered headbands and red nail polish on their teeny fingernails.

And while Amelia also wore a nasal tube connected to a portable oxygen tank, both girls are expected to have "full, independent lives," said Holly Hedrick, the pediatric surgeon who led their 7-hour operation on Nov. 7.

"It's been a roller coaster of emotions," Shellie, 24, said during the press conference. "But I wouldn't trade it for anything. We have developed as a couple, as parents, as a family, and we have met wonderful people."

The Tuckers are from Adams, N.Y., near Watertown, but have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Camden since before the twins' birth by planned cesarean section on March 1. Greg, 25, had just finished a 5-year stint in the Army a month before the move.

Their son, Owen, 2, joined them in Camden two months after the twins were born.

Shellie spent manys hours undergoing ultrasound imaging so doctors could analyze the twins' anatomy in detail. The abdominal structures that they shared made them good candidates for separation, said Hedrick.

Specialties including cardiology, plastic surgery, and neonatology were involved in the seven-hour operation, which climaxed months of planning.

One of the many procedures to prepare the twins involved inserting skin expanders to increase the skin available to cover their chests and abdomens after separation.

The Tuckers first learned that the twins were conjoined about 20 weeks into the pregnancy.

The Tucker girls were the 21st set of conjoined twins to be separated at Children's.

- Marie McCullough

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