“It’s the most amazing thing. I just can’t even believe it,” Nicole McDonald said as she looked at her 14-month-old son’s unbandaged head for the first time. “And look at his little hair. On top, it’s growing in!”
Jadon McDonald and his twin brother Anias were born conjoined at the head, but were recently separated during a 27-hour surgery at the Children’s Hospital at Montifiore Medical Center in the Bronx. It’s been five weeks, and they are setting the world record for recovery time. Recovering from this operation, called craniopagus surgery, typically takes months, with the previous record being eight weeks.
Jadon’s unwrapped head is perfectly shaped, his hairline curling naturally. Anias has been having a harder time recovering, but their father, Christian McDonald, says he’s “going to get through it.”
Their lead surgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, claims that separating the McDonald boys was his most complicated surgery, as their brains were intertwined. Miraculously, their post-surgery progress is going well.
“Historically, this will be the fastest (recovery),” Goodrich said. “When they’re ahead of schedule, it makes everyone happy.”
Soon the boys will be sent to a rehabilitation center where they will undergo months of therapy, training their bodies to reach the milestones normal for their age, such as lifting their heads on their own.
While the twins are now doing well, the past few weeks have been rough. They both struggled with infections beneath their scalps, and Jadon was even temporarily paralyzed on his left side, having had a seizure. Anias too suffered from multiple seizures and will have to undergo more surgery on his skull in the future.
For now, however, they’re progressing steadily. Their mother calls them “little miracles."