September 4, 2002

Twin girls born joined at the chest and abdomen are in critical condition and comfortably resting after surgery to separate them Friday, Aug. 30, at Columbus Children's Hospital. Four-month-olds Makayla and Jazmine Heaberlin, daughters of Trinda Kaminski and Shane Heaberlin of Mansfield, Ohio, were born at 33 weeks gestation at The Ohio State University Medical Center on April 24, 2002, at 11:25 p.m. via cesarean section. The twins were transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Columbus Children's Hospital shortly after their birth. They arrived at Children's at 2:03 a.m., April 25. Upon their arrival to Columbus Children's Hospital, the twins were admitted, given a complete neonatal screening and underwent diagnostic tests to determine if surgery was possible. Tests included close scrutiny of the central nervous, cardiac, pulmonary, gastroenteric, hepatic, vascular and skeletal systems. The twins were classified as thoracopagus-meaning they were joined at the chest. Thoracopagus is the most common type of conjoinment, accounting for 35 percent of all conjoined twins cases. The twins had no sternum and shared a liver and diaphragm. They also shared a pericardium (sac enclosing the heart) but had separate, adjacent hearts. Makayla's heart is normal in size and anatomy. A new heart sac was created and her chest was closed. Jazmine's heart has a large hole in the wall separating the pumping chambers and therefore is enlarged. Her enlarged heart required the creation of an artificial front chest wall from titanium mesh to protect it. It is likely that surgery will be necessary to repair her heart defect. "The separation of conjoined twins has long been a surgical challenge. Successful separation is often precluded by the nature of the conjoining," said Gail Besner, MD, the pediatric surgeon who first became involved with the Heaberlin case. The surgery began at 7:30 a.m. and concluded at approximately 8 p.m. A surgical team composed of specialists from pediatric surgery, thoracic surgery, plastic surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology and nursing performed the operation. The twins together weighed 19 pounds prior to the separation. "We are pleased with the outcome of the surgery," said Besner. "The truly wonderful part is we are optimistic that Makayla and Jazmine will eventually be able to go home and live happy and healthy lives." Since 1978, surgeons at Columbus Children's Hospital have successfully separated four sets of conjoined twins, including the current patients. The hospital staff has cared for two additional sets of conjoined twins that died within days of their births-one set was separated and no surgical intervention was possible for the other set. "This type of surgery is an example of the experience and expertise of the entire staff at Columbus Children's Hospital," said Donna Caniano, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Children's. "It was with the combined efforts of numerous departments and specialties - such as laboratory, neonatology, radiology, among many others - that we were able to help these children. From the doctors and the operating room staff to the intensive care nurses - we can't thank them enough for making it possible to help these patients." It is not yet known how long the girls will remain at Children's Hospital before going home. Children's Hospital, Inc., in Columbus, Ohio, is a healthcare network that provides wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children, adolescents and selected adult patients. A medical staff of more than 750 and a hospital staff of nearly 4000 provide state-of-the-art pediatric care for 500,000 patient visits annually. Children's is home to Ohio's first Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center and its Children's Research Institute is one of the top ten National Institutes of Health-funded pediatric research facilities. Each year, more than 75,000 consumers receive health and wellness education and 2,000 students from 100 institutions and 500 medical residents receive training at Children's. The preferred pediatric provider in Central Ohio since 1892, Children's Hospital is dedicated exclusively to full-service health care for children - serving every child for every reason. Click here to see photos

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at