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Separated conjoined twins meet for first time since undergoing surgery

In this Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo provided by the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, the formerly conjoined twin girls, Eva, left, and Erika, right, reunite for the first time since separation surgery with their parents, Arturo Sandoval and his wife, Aida, in Palo Alto, Calif. Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford via AP

The conjoined California twins that were separated last week following a 17-hour marathon surgery have been reunited for the first time since the operation.

Eva and Erika Sandoval have been recovering in separate beds in the same room, but they could not see each other well. On Monday, their parents and intensive care team carefully carried Erika and placed her in Eva’s bed to say hello, officials at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford said Wednesday.

It’s the closest the twins have been since they were separated on Dec. 6.

“It was such a thrill for us to see the girls next to one another again,” said the twins’ mother, Aida Sandoval.

Dr. Meghna Patel, who is caring for Erika in the pediatric intensive care unit, said both are doing well. “They have had no significant complications,” she said.

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READ MORE: Mom of conjoined twins holds one son for 1st time after successful separation surgery

Before surgery, the girls shared a bladder, liver, parts of their digestive system and a third leg. Each girl retains portions of the organs they shared, and each still has one leg. The third limb was used for skin grafts to cover surgical wounds. Both girls would likely need a prosthetic leg, doctors said.

In this Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo provided by the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit members of the girls’ care team position Erika’s bed so that the twins’ mother, Aida Sandoval, second from right, could pick up her daughter, Erika, from her bed and place her next to her sister Eva, partially seen at left with her father, Arturo Sandoval, in Palo Alto, Calif. Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford via AP

The 2-year-old Sacramento area girls are awake and breathing without ventilators and are expected to continue recovering from surgery in the hospital for another week before moving out of intensive care to an acute care unit.

READ MORE: Conjoined twins from Nigeria separated at US hospital

As few as one of every 200,000 births results in conjoined twins. About 50 percent of such twins are born stillborn, and 35 percent survive only one day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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Only a few hundred surgeries have been performed successfully to separate conjoined twins. Stanford doctors had calculated a 30 percent chance that one or both twins wouldn’t make it through the operation.

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