Separated Twin Doing Well After Surgery

From a Times Staff Writer

An operation Friday on a formerly conjoined twin from Guatemala went well, according to her neurosurgeon, but it will take time to determine its effectiveness.

The surgery replaced a shunt in the 22-month-old’s head to drain fluid after the previous one became infected.

“The surgery went as planned,” said Dr. Jorge Lazareff, lead neurosurgeon for the twins.

“However, it will be at least a week before we will see the results of the surgery and its impact on Maria Teresa’s medical condition.”


Doctors at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital also inserted a tube into Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez’s stomach to help her eat and performed another procedure to keep her from regurgitating, doctors said.

She remained in the pediatric intensive care unit, but her vital signs were stable, doctors said. Her sister, Maria de Jesus, is in good condition and could leave the hospital next week.

The twins were born joined at the head on July 25, 2001, in a village about 100 miles southeast of Guatemala City.

They were brought to UCLA last fall by the nonprofit Healing the Children and were separated in a 23-hour operation.

In January, the twins and their parents returned home and resettled in a house in Guatemala City to be nearer to the twins’ doctors there.

But last week, the girls were returned to UCLA after the shunt in Maria Teresa’s head became infected and Maria de Jesus experienced convulsions due to fever.

The twins’ parents -- Wenceslao Quiej and Alba Leticia Alvarez -- who spent months in Los Angeles during the girls’ first trip here, remained home this time. A UCLA doctor accompanied the girls on the trip.