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Continuing Medical Education

Continuing Medical Education

NEWS | March 29, 2017

Home sweet home: Formerly conjoined twins leave UC Davis Children's Hospital

Editor's note:

A gallery of photos of the twins at UC Davis Children’s Hospital is available here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B4PyR5oL0W90aXRnYll6VlJPUVE?usp=sharing

Photo credit: UC Davis Children’s Hospital/©UC Regents

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

After a nearly three-week stay at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Erika and Eva Sandoval have returned to their Antelope home. 

Speech therapist Michelle Ramirez with Eva Sandoval, left, and Erika Sandoval, right Speech therapist Michelle Ramirez with Eva Sandoval, left, and Erika Sandoval, right

The 2 ½-year-old sisters, who were born conjoined twins, were transferred to UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford on March 10 for inpatient pediatric rehabilitation services.

The team from the UC Davis Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation designed a comprehensive rehabilitation program to meet the unique needs of the twins, who were conjoined from the chest down and were separated last December. The pair received three hours each day of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, six days a week. 

“It was what they needed,” said Aida Sandoval, the twins’ mother. “It was a lot for them to do each day, but it kept them busy and challenged.”

One of their challenges was learning how to eat and swallow. It was a skill that they hadn’t formerly learned since they have been on a nasogastric tube since birth. Speech therapy, which was scheduled around breakfast and lunch times, provided the help that they needed. 

“We made it fun for them. When I started, they didn’t like to get their hands dirty. They didn’t want to sit at the table to eat. Now they love dipping cereal puffs in jam. They are tasting maple syrup with their hands. There’s a lot of dipping and tasting,” said speech therapist Michelle Ramirez. “They’ve come a long way in a short time."

Some of their favorite foods? Jell-o, strawberry jam and peaches!

The sisters very much enjoy each other’s company, but staff have also seen the pair blossom, as they develop their own individual identities and the ability to be separated for therapy and trips to the play room.  

“Erika and Eva continue to thrive on the rehabilitation service as they gain independence and continue to get stronger,” said Loren Davidson, chief of the division of pediatric rehabilitation at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “They enjoy therapies and are extremely social and verbal. We are very pleased with Erika and Eva's progress with feeding and mobility and enjoy watching them explore, learn and play as any other two year old would.”

View video clips of the twins during speech therapy: https://youtu.be/53aEp5LX3aU and https://youtu.be/Is2gprdEqjY

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as the West Coast's only level I children's surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit children.ucdavis.edu.