Scarlett and Ximena Torres celebrate turning 8 on May 16 in a much different way than life began. Conjoined at birth, these twins now lead distinct lives not unlike most other children. And they get to blow out their candles every year knowing wishes really do come true.
But this might not have been their reality.
Without the life-changing operation performed at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, these twins would not have the gift of independent movement, the gift of enjoying very distinct lives. The surgery, performed when the girls were nearly 1, was groundbreaking for Driscoll — accomplished there for the first time.
That surgery, on April 12, 2016, resulted in the separation of conjoined twins in a triplet birth, which has the odds of happening one in 50 million births.
Unique, rare — and special. Just like the Torres girls of the Rio Grande Valley.
No one at Driscoll Children’s Hospital had ever attempted such a complicated procedure. After many months of intense preparation, 14 physicians and a staff of medical professionals were ready to do whatever possible to offer the hope of a normal life to the conjoined twins.
Today, success is witnessed in Scarlett and Ximena’s everyday lives. Like any 8-year-old, the South Texas sisters enjoy running, jumping and playing at different times and in different ways. Their individual personalities shine, and they are making true, childhood friends — but now they don’t have to share exactly the same ones.
They can be in two places at the same time — and choose what they want to do.
And while being able to play freely and naturally might have been the last thing on anyone’s mind back in 2016, it’s what helps make childhood satisfying for these growing girls.
After all, who doesn’t remember the photos Driscoll Children’s Hospital released of the twins before the operation, showing how the babies were fused below the waist?
The top-notch group of medical personnel at Driscoll spent almost a year trying to piece together the puzzle that would offer Scarlett and Ximena their independence — and save their lives. In all, 45 medical professionals were directly involved.
Teamwork — between the physicians, nurses and other Driscoll Children’s Hospital staff members — made all the difference in the care of Scarlett and Ximena and their identical sister Catalina, who was born without serious health issues. Driscoll’s involvement began early, before the triplets were born, with Driscoll Health System’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists closely monitoring their mother’s progress and delivering the babies. Shortly after their birth on May 16, 2015, the babies were transported to Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where Scarlett and Ximena remained until their separation surgery.
The Driscoll team employed a wide range of innovative technology — from virtual computer simulations to the use of a camera to assess blood flow during the operation — and gave it their all during the twins’ 12-hour surgery. It’s just like they would for any family in the region. From Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande Valley to Victoria and Laredo, all area families can be confident their children receive expert medical care right here in South Texas.
In fact, Driscoll’s trusted team treats around 150,000 pediatric patients each year. Soon, Driscoll will offer even more care for more kids with the opening of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.
Today, Scarlett and Ximena continue their routine check-ups at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center-Harlingen. And they are content, leading the lives of everyday little girls who have their whole future ahead of them.
Thankfully, turning 8 does look much different than the day of their birth. And while being born marks the start of a new life, these formerly conjoined twins might consider the date when they were released from Driscoll — May 18, 2016, two days after their first birthday — as the day when their lives really began.
Now they can make birthday wishes that will take them wherever they want to go — from childhood things, like bounce houses, where they can run and jump, to teenage dreams like driving their own car, to adulthood and building their own family one day.
Blow out the candles, Scarlett and Ximena, it’s time to make those wishes for today, tomorrow and always.