Formerly conjoined twins Eva and Erika Sandoval are thriving at home and discovering their own separate personalities.
The sisters, who were born joined from the rib cage down, were separated in a 17-hour surgery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford last December. After returning home to Antelope, California, in the spring, they've adapted to being two separate individuals. (The photo to the right shows Erika and Eva with their parents, Aida and Arturo Sandoval, at the farewell celebration the hospital held before they were discharged in March.)
As the Sacramento Bee reported recently, Erika and Eva are now two spirited, very busy little girls:
Erika likes fixing things and busies herself hammering at the walls and banisters with a plastic banana. Eva enjoys make-believe baking and serves everyone invisible cake and soda throughout the day. At their third birthday party in August, Erika will dress as a cowgirl and Eva as a princess.
It’s been an evolution for Erika, who used to stare wide-eyed at strangers while her sister jabbered. Now she smiles constantly and squeaks out as many two-to-four word sentences as Eva does.
'She’s her own person,' Aida said. 'Before it was just whatever her sister was doing. I love just watching them, learning their interests.'
The girls each have two arms and one leg; tissue from their shared third leg was used during their surgery to help close Erika's separation wound. They're scooting quickly around the house on their own limbs and with the help of customized, bright pink wheelchairs. In the fall, they'll reach a milestone common for children their age when they start attending preschool.
For now, life at the Sandoval household feels wonderfully ordinary, their mother told the Bee:
'Having them separate, it’s like the day-to-day for anybody with twins,' Aida said. 'It’s a wonderful feeling, just to be able to make sure two more little babies get to adulthood.'
Previously: Formerly conjoined twins one step closer to home, Conjoined twins update: Erika and Eva Sandoval healing well and Conjoined twins successfully separated at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford