Conjoined Twins Separated for First Time in Haiti


Six-month-old twin girls are recovering well after becoming the first conjoined twins ever separated in their home country of Haiti.

The girls, Michelle and Marian Bernard, were born in November connected at the abdomen. They also have a separate triplet sister, Tamar. “They capture your heart,” said CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook, who was there for the surgery. “The first time I saw them, they’re holding each others’ hands.”

Their parents learned 23 weeks into the pregnancy that the babies would have a problem Haiti’s health care system was ill equipped to handle. That set off an unprecedented international effort to get the babies the care they would need to live normal, healthy lives.

Five years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, “This is a country that’s trying to rebuild the health care system,” LaPook said. “‘Rebuild’ what never really existed in the first place. And the thought of doing a sophisticated operation like this would have been absolutely unheard of.”

So he said an “incredible dream team” of doctors was assembled to perform the surgery, led by Dr. Henri Ford, the chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Ford himself is a native of Haiti who moved to the U.S. in his teens and now makes frequent return trips to treat patients in his homeland.

Rather than fly the babies to an American hospital for treatment, the decision was made to keep them close to home to make the process easier on the family and help develop the Haitian medical community.

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