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Formerly conjoined toddlers leave U.S. hospital

    ADDS ROCIO WATSON ID - Lisandra Sanatis, left, holds her daughter, Theresa Tapia, as Rocio Watson, of the World Pediatric Project, a charity group that helped sponsor the operation, right, holds Maria Tapia in their room at Children?s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., Thursday Dec. 1, 2011. The conjoined twins were separated during an operation at the hospital Nov. 8, 2011. The twins are expected to be released from the hospital Friday and are expected to go back home to the Dominican Republic before Christmas. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. » Two formerly conjoined toddlers from the Dominican Republic are leaving a Virginia hospital after recovering from separation surgery.

Maria and Teresa Tapia underwent complicated, nearly daylong surgery on Nov. 8 at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. In a series of procedures, the surgical team divided the twins’ liver, pancreas and other shared organ systems and reconstructed their abdominal walls.

After they leave the hospital Friday, the 20-month-old girls will remain in Richmond for follow-up medical visits and to continue outpatient therapy to work on walking and other motor skills as they become accustomed to being separated.

Doctors expect the girls and their mother to rejoin the rest of their family in the Dominican Republic by Christmas.

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