PHOENIX (AP) — One of two conjoined twins separated from his brother in January is set to leave Phoenix Children's Hospital this week.
In August, Angel and Alex Mendoza were born connected from their chests to their hips. They underwent a complicated daylong surgery to be separated, and now their hearts and lungs are strong, and the two are expected to lead long lives.
While doctors are releasing Angel this week, Alex is expected to remain hospitalized for about a month longer.
"It's a wonderful thing that they are going to be out of here," said their nurse, Mike Rokovich. "That's what we've been waiting for: happy, healthy babies."
Alex needs more time in the hospital, in part, because his doctor is using cultured skin to help close some of the baby's wounds from the separation surgery. Lab-grown cultured skin combines the patient's skin cells with animal products to create skin grafts.
The brothers will have years of continued treatment and rehabilitation because of problems with their hips, pelvises and urinary tracts.
But the boys' doctors and nurses are amazed at how far they have come.
"They are doing great," said Deb Green, manager of the neonatal intensive-care unit. "It is remarkable. They are very strong little boys."
Because the boys' mother, Ashley Frank of Kingman, has two other young children, and because the boys will still need a lot of medical care, Angel will go to a medical-foster home when he is released.
The home is just like any other foster home, except the foster parents have the training to help a child who needs special care.
Alex will join him there when he leaves the hospital.
_Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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