Recently, a team of doctors separated conjoined twins in a first of its kind historic virtual reality surgery. “Space-age stuff”, is what surgeon Noor Ul Owase Jeelani described the surgery as to BBC.

Thanks to a 23-hour marathon surgery which involved as many as nine operations, the two brothers will now be able to look at each other for the first time in their lives. The twins in question are Arthur and Bernardo, who were born in 2018 in Roraima, northern Brazil.

According to BBC, the twins underwent the extremely complicated surgeries in Rio de Janeiro, with directions from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The complex procedures were led by Dr. Noor Ul Owase Jeelani from UK, Dr. Gabriel Mufarrej from Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer, Brazil. The two surgeons spent months to perfect the techniques of successfully completing the surgery, before the twins were actually called to undergo the real procedure.

Calling the entire undertaking of the surgery a “remarkable achievement”, Dr. Jeelani was quoted by media saying, “The successful separation of Bernardo and Arthur is a remarkable achievement by the team in Rio and a fantastic example of why the work of Gemini Untwined is so valuable.”

As the twins are now almost four years old, they are the oldest conjoined twins with a fused brain to be separated.

The Facts of the Matter

As the world learns more about the perils and advantages of virtual reality, a UK-based doctor and his team conducted an extremely complicated surgery wherein conjoined twins were separated with the help of virtual reality.

The surgery took place at Brazil’s Instituto Estadual do Cerebro Paulo Niemeyer in Rio de Janeiro on the direction of pediatric surgeon Noor Ul Owase Jeelani who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

Twins Separated 4 Almost Years after Birth

The twins in question, who will now be able to look at each other’s faces, are almost four-year-old Bernardo and Arthur Lima. The twins were born with a fused brain back in 2018, in Brazil’s Roraima.

According to Dr. Jeelani, the surgery was the most complex separation process to ever be completed successfully. The surgery was funded by Gemini Untwined, a charity founded by Dr. Jeelani himself in 2018.

Surgeons Conducted Procedure in “VR Room”

Speaking more about the complicated procedure, Dr. Jeelani mentioned that surgeons sitting in different countries, wore headsets, and conducted the procedure in “virtual reality room”. The surgery involved over 7 operations which took 27 hours and the help of as many as 100 personnel from medical field.

“Man-on-Mars Stuff”

“In some ways these operations are considered the hardest of our time, and to do it in virtual reality was just really man-on-Mars stuff,” Dr. Jeelani said, adding that virtual reality helps surgeons to understand the anatomy, before children are put to risk.

Only Took 15-Minute Breaks

Dr. Jeelani also said how he took only 15-minute breaks for eating and having water, and was “absolutely shattered” by the end of the successful operation. However, he said he was happy on seeing the family of the twins being “over the moon” afterwards.

He also mentioned how during the surgery, the twins’ blood pressures, heart rates, and other vitals were “through the roof”, until they were reunited. This is something which is true for all conjoined twins, he mentioned.


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