Montefiore in the News
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Montefiore in the News

April 21, 2005

New York City, NY (April 21, 2005) – Formerly conjoined twins Carl and Clarence Aguirre celebrated their third birthdays today, delighting in a very messy chocolate cream-filled Sesame Street cake that they shared with a small group of classmates and friends.  It was the first birthday celebration for the twins as separate individuals.

Clarence and Carl were born joined at the tops of their heads and were successfully separated last August in an historic surgery at The ChildrenÂ’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM).  Since their separation, the brothers have been engaged in intensive physical and speech therapy at Blythedale ChildrenÂ’s Hospital where todayÂ’s festivities were planned. The boys enjoyed their own party with two-and-a-half to six-year-old classmates and a second party was given by mother Arlene for her friends.

“Carl fell asleep at that one,” said Robert Marion, MD, the pediatrician who has been caring for the boys since their arrival at CHAM from the Philippines on September 10, 2002. “Clarence, as he usually does, was hamming it up, entertaining young and old party-goers alike,” said Dr. Marion.

“What weÂ’re seeing today is a birthday party, but it is really the celebration of a medical miracle,” said Dr. Marion.  “Before Carl and Clarence came to the US they had absolutely no chance of survival.  Now, weÂ’re all looking forward to a future for them filled with health and happiness.”

“It is overwhelming to see Clarence and Carl doing so well on their very first birthday as individuals,” said David Staffenberg, MD, chief of pediatric plastic surgery at CHAM and one of the lead surgeons on the CHAM team that separated the brothers.

“When we first met Clarence and Carl, there was so much ahead of all of us in terms of planning for and bringing the boys successfully through the multiple separation surgeries,” Dr. Staffenberg said.  “Back then, it was hard to imagine seeing them sitting side by side fighting over frosting and balloons.  For them, for their mother Arlene and for the dozens of caregivers who have embraced these boys, this is a dream come true.”

The medical team at CHAM agrees that Carl and Clarence are doing “just beautifully” in terms of their rehabilitative therapy, gaining on their peers every day in terms of motor skills and speech.  “They still are making up for the first two years of life which they spent laying on their backs with very little stimulation or developmental support,” said James T. Goodrich, MD, PhD, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, who lead the boysÂ’ surgical team at CHAM.

“We are keeping a close watch on them through regular CT scans and observation to make sure there continue to be no neurological problems,” said Dr. Goodrich.  “So far they just amaze us with what they can do and what they are quickly learning to do just like their peers.”

“I knew the day Carl tried to run me over with his tricycle that I was going to have to watch out for these kids,” said Dr. Goodrich.  “They are both full of surprisesÂ…just like three-year-olds everywhere.”

The brothers will return to CHAM at some point in the future for several reconstructive surgeries to rebuild missing sections of their skulls.