Conjoined twin girls successfully separated at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, Australia

Conjoined Bhutanese twins have been successfully separated at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, in Australia after a six hour operation.

The 15-month-old twin girls, Nima and Dawa, joined at the torso and sharing a liver, were brought to Melbourne with their mother, Bhumchu Zangmo, last month by Children First Foundation, an Australian-based charity.

They had
been unable to sit down together and could stand but only at the same time.

About 36 specialist split into two teams -a team for each child- participated in the procedure and Lead surgeon Dr Joe Crameri said the girls coped very well and have a good chance of full recovery.

"There's nothing better in any operation to be able to go to the parents and say we have been able to take care of your child," he said.

Doctors were able to successfully divided the twins' shared liver in the six-hour long operation.

The girls were found not to share a bowel - something surgeons had said was an "unknown" before the operation.

"We always felt confident that we could achieve this," Dr Crameri said. "But we just did not know what we would find."

"There will be challenges over the next 24 to 48 hours as with any surgery, and we feel quietly confident that we will have a good result," he said.

Elizabeth Lodge, from the Australian-based charity said the girl's mother had felt "a little bit scared", but had shown "extraordinary calmness" before the procedure.

The charity said in a statement: "Bhumchu has seen her girls and given each a kiss… each sleeping apart for the first time."

They are expected to return to the Himalayan kingdom, one of the world's poorest nations, after the twins have recovered.

The state of Victoria has offered to cover the A$350,000 (US $255,000) cost of the operation.

Conjoined twins are very rare and only a few separations are performed each year globally.

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