STANFORD, Calif. (KTVU) - A Northern California mother cried tears of joy Thursday while speaking about her formerly conjoined twins, now separated after a lengthy and complicated procedure at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital earlier this week.
Newly released video chronicles the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for two-year old conjoined twins Eva and Erika Sandoval.
This past Tuesday morning, the little girls were wheeled into the operating room at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in what is the last time the twins are seen sharing one body.
What happened next was a 17-hour long successful surgery to separate the girls and reconstruct their newly individual bodies.
Using 3-D models, the doctors had to figure out which organs went with which girl. The toddlers have separate hearts and lungs but were joined at the sternum, diaphragm, liver and pelvis.
"For us it was a big challenge," said co-surgeon Dr. Matias Bruzoni. "But little by little with help of a lot of people--qualified people--we were able to from the top down finally separate them."
"It's been a dream come true," said the twins' mother Aida Sandoval.
On Thursday, it was hard for Aida Sandoval to hold back her emotion.
"Thank you to all the doctors for believing and holding our hand while we went through some little hiccups," said Sandoval.
It has been a long road for these two little girls from Antelope near Sacramento.
Born at 32 weeks by emergency C-Section, the twins spent 7 months at Lucile Packard's Intensive Care Unit.
Following this week's surgery, the video shows one of the twins, Eva, being carefully wheeled down the hallway for the first time in a bed by herself.
Before this milestone was reached, lead surgeon Gary Hartman was concerned about the smaller twin, Erika.
"And we were very concerned about [Erika] pre-operatively basically she kept getting smaller," said Dr. Hartman. "The more calories we gave her, the bigger Eva got."
Dr. Hartman says Erika is now recovering even quicker than her big sister Eva.
Doctors expect the little girls to spend another month at the hospital before being allowed to head home. In the meantime, they're sharing a hospital room, just in separate beds.