Surgery begins to separate conjoined infants

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Doctors on Tuesday began a complex hours-long surgery to separate two 10-month-old sisters born conjoined below the waist.

Ximena and Scarlett Hernandez-Torres share a colon and bladders that will be reconstructed.

The girls also have an identical triplet sister, Catalina. She was born without serious health issues.

Doctors at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas said the separation surgery could take 12 to 18 hours.

A team of specialists has been working for months to prepare for the procedure.

"This is an extremely challenging operation, but we look forward to a successful outcome,” said pediatric surgeon Dr. Haroon Patel.

The team involved in the procedure is made up of specialty physicians from pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, and orthopedics.

Doctors said the girls will require additional surgeries as they grow.

Figures show conjoined twins make up in 1 of every 200,000 births.

The chance of a triplet birth involving conjoined twins is 1 in 50 million, according to specialists.