New York City, NY January 20, 2006 -- "Nothing noteworthy is the news," says Robert Marion, MD, pediatrician of Carl and Clarence Aguirre. "Carl and Clarence are two wonderful, normal little boys."
The formerly conjoined twins, who were separated last August after a series of staged surgical procedures at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, are now three-year-old boys. They currently reside in Westchester County, N.Y., where they share a bedroom and play together in a fenced back yard.
Like many other children across the country, during the week the boys jump on a school bus at 8:45 a.m. and head to pre-school. At Blythedale Children's Hospital, in an early intervention program, they continue to receive aggressive occupational, rehabilitative and speech therapies. Clarence, the younger of the twins, is now running unassisted, and although Carl is not yet walking independently, he is making steady progress. The boys' speech has also improved. They now speak dozens of words and two-word phrases.
Both boys still wear helmets to protect their skulls and heads from possible injury due to falls. Meanwhile, chief pediatric plastic surgeon David Staffenberg, MD, is preparing for upcoming scalp and skull reconstruction surgeries, since the children each have only about half of a full skull. The reconstructive surgeries will involve creating and building skulls, providing full head coverage.
"We will be getting some new CT images to further evaluate the timing for surgery," says Dr. Staffenberg. "There's no question that our timing in the series of the children's surgeries has been crucial to their overall well-being and their ability to amaze us with their catch-up development. They're flourishing because we got the timing right."
The Aguirre family enjoyed a quiet and happy Christmas. However, their mother, Arlene, could not place the gifts under the tree until Christmas morning because she was afraid the boys would tear open their presents on sight.
"They have really 'lit up' since moving to their own home. Clarence has always been keen and outgoing, but Carl, who's been a bit more reserved, has blossomed," says Dr. Staffenberg. "It's truly amazing now to imagine their current situation: Mother and sons living in their own house without the need for nurses or medical equipment of any kind, just like other families in the neighborhood."
Arlene says, "The most difficult thing for me is that I'm not with the boys during the day. But I couldn't be happier and more proud of them."