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Separated Twin to Have Surgery

May 30, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

One of two formerly conjoined twins who returned to UCLA from Guatemala last week will undergo surgery today to replace a shunt in her head, according to officials at Mattel Children's Hospital.

Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez, who was separated from her sister Maria de Jesus last year, was fitted with a shunt intended to drain excess fluid from her skull. The device became infected recently and had to be removed when the girl contracted E. coli meningitis.

Maria Teresa remains in fair condition in the pediatric intensive care unit, according to Dr. Jorge Lazareff, lead neurosurgeon for the twins' medical team and director of pediatric neurosurgery.

The sisters, now 22 months old, were born in Guatemala attached at the head. After a 23-hour surgery at UCLA last August, they returned home.

As a result of the surgery, the cerebral spinal fluid in Maria Teresa's brain cannot flow normally through the drainage veins at the base of her head, according to Lazareff.

The shunt was installed to help the veins manage excess fluid and prevent pressure from building on her brain.

Maria de Jesus remains in good condition at the children's hospital and may be discharged soon. Her parents became alarmed when she suffered convulsions because of a high fever. Medical officials say she is fine now.

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