Inside the operating theatre: Amazing photo shows a team of Chinese surgeons getting ready to separate conjoined twin girls
Surrounded by banks of life-saving machines and almost two dozen medical professionals, tiny Zheng Qianyan and Zheng Wanyu are about to undergo the most dangerous operation of their young lives.
This amazing and dramatic photo shows the beginning of hours of risky and specialist surgery to separate the conjoined twins in the province of Hunan in China.
The doctors successfully separated the 43-day-old girls in a challenging operation on January 11.
Ready for separation: A team of more than 20 medical staff prepare to operate on conjoined twins Zheng Qianyan and Zheng Wanyu in January. The 43-day-old twins were joined at the liver and had their heart-sac connected
Before and after: A doctor at Hunan Children's Hospital weighs the twins
before their operation. Afterwards, the two are doted on by family and
staff as they recover in intensive care. No doubt aware of the international interest in the twins, someone has written 'Hello' in English on the girls' bed
While the incidence of conjoined twins is rare, cases of twins staying conjoined or being successfully separated always make popular headlines around the world.
But it is a rare opportunity indeed to see inside the operating theatre as the surgeons begin their work.
Zheng Qianyan and Zheng Wanyu, born in late November, shared a liver and had their heart-sac connected. They also suffered congenital heart disease, according to doctors in the Hunan Children's Hospital in Changsha.
Young celebrities: After their surgery and the critical aftermath – where infection could have proved fatal to both – the girls seem happy to pose for photographers wanting to document their brief but amazing life story
The girls were separated and placed in intensive care for the critical seven days after the surgery – where infection could prove fatal.
Zhu Yimin, head of an expert panel on the operation, said more than 20 doctors worked on the twins' during the epic surgery.
Yesterday the twins returned to their home in Yongzhou, about 320km from Changsha.
Conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 100,000 births.
Most of them die before birth and only one in 200,000 is born alive.