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Conjoined Twins Profile: Maria and Teresa Tapia


Updated April 24, 2013

Maria and Teresa Tapia

Conjoined twins Maria and Teresa Tapia

Photo courtesy of World Pediatric Project

Twins' Names:

Teresa Maria and Maria Teresa Tapia


April 8, 2010


The twins were born in Andrés Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. They were brought to Virginia for separation surgery by the World Pediatric Project.

Type of Conjoined Twins:

Omphalopagus. With separate hearts and kidneys, the twin girls were conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen. They shared a liver, part of their biliary system, pancreas glands and their duodenums, the top part of the small intestine. Each had two arms and two legs. Because the connection in the twins' intestines limited her nutritional intake, Maria was nearly 20 percent smaller in size than her sister Teresa. Also, Their connection is similar to the Sabuco twins, who were also surgically separated in November 2011.

Separation Date:

November 7, 2011

Separation Location:

Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. This surgery was the first conjoined twins separation at the facility.

Separation Team:

David Lanning, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief; Jennifer Rhodes, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery and director of the VCU Center for Craniofacial Care; Robert Fisher, M.D., professor of surgery and director of the liver transplant program; and Claudio Oiticica, M.D., associate professor of surgery, as well as a team of about 45 physicians and pediatric subspecialists. The medical staff volunteered their time.


The twins were born in the Dominican Republic to Lisandra Sanatis. Their mother had a suspicion that she was carrying twins, feeling "doubly sick" in comparison to her previous three pregnancies. Because resources were not available in their home country, the twins were brought to the United States for surgery by World Pediatric Project. (World Pediatric Project heals children in developing countries today while creating and implementing long term solutions to address the critical healthcare needs of children and babies who will be born tomorrow.) The twins were surgically separated when they were nineteen months old in a complex surgery that lasted almost twenty hours. First lady of the Dominican Republic, Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, visited Richmond during the surgery to support the family. Many elements of the Virginia Commonwealth University community came together to support the surgery. An occupational therapist helped designed a carseat for the conjoined twins. A sculpture and pre-med student crafted a cast model of the twins to assist the surgeons as they planned the procedure. A fashion professor and her students designed clothing and a Halloween costume to accommodate the twins' conjoined bodies.


After recovering from the surgery, the girls were expected to return to the Dominican Republic by the end of 2011. They will require follow up therapy but were expected to fully recover and lead normal lives.

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