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Aguirre Twins Take First Solo Steps

New York, NY September 26, 2005 -- One year after the historic surgery that separated Carl and Clarence Aguirre, twins who were formerly conjoined at the head, the boys have experienced a “burst of activity in their ability to walk and speak,” announced Robert Marion, MD the boys’ pediatrician and director, Center for Congenital Disorders at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), at a news conference today.

For photographs of the boys walking and playing, please click the link "Aguirre Twins Photos" in the navigation column to the right (or in the box above).

Clarence walks on his own in quick baby steps, which his neursonsurgeon, James T. Goodrich, MD, director, division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at CHAM, has likened to “running like a Samurai.” Carl, said Dr.Goodrich, still relies on walker or the steadying grasp on an adult’s hand, and is “not far behind.” Both boys’ vocabularies have grown immensely in recent months, agreed all members of the medical and therapy team at the conference. They motivate each other in many ways, including pronouncing new words such as “more,” “mine” (especially when speaking to each other about toys), “where’s Elmo,” and “thank you.”

In front of a bank of news cameras and print reporters who were peppering medical experts with questions, a sleepy Carl drooped himself comfortably over his physical therapist’s shoulder. Energetic Clarence played with a stack of colorful rings while he sat at a low-lying table with his mother, Arlene, who said: “Clarence first walked about a month ago. At first, I was in shock, then I cried. It has been my dream.”

"No new date has been set for the next stages of surgery," said David A. Staffenberg, MD, FACS, the chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at CHAM. “We will wait until the boys on their own have caught up developmentally.” Surgically, he said, what remains to be done is to reconstruct areas of the skull where there is missing bone and to repair small bald spots on Clarence’s scalp.

The boys have progressed amazingly well, from crawling to walking, explained Mara Abrams, physical therapist at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. “The next steps will be running, engaging in playgound activities on the slide and swings and using their skills to make friendships.” Dr. Marion stated that the boys will continue to get physical and occupational therapy at Blythedale for a few more years.

When asked about what the prognosis was five years out, Dr. Goodrich said that it was “anybody’s guess” -- but that the twins are “progressing steadily.” He noted that compared to when they arrived two years ago in the United States and were conjoined at the head, the boys’ neurological condition was like “night and day.” Dr. Goodrich felt that their progress was “outstanding.”