For the first time in their young lives, Addison and Lilianna Altobellli now live in separate bodies. The 14-month-old twin sisters were conjoined at the abdomen when they were born and spent the first ten months of their lives in intensive care. Since their successful 10-hour separation surgery last October, the girls are living at home with their parents, Maggie and Dom Altobelli, for the first time.
Maggie was 20 weeks pregnant when she went in for a routine ultrasound to learn the sex of the baby she was carrying. She said she was completely surprised to learn she was carrying not one, but two babies, and that they were conjoined.
“I was trying to find out the gender of one baby I thought we were having, and then it turned out to be a little more complicated,” Maggie told Today. “It was an out-of-body experience.”
Their medical team soon learned that the girls shared a diaphragm and a liver that was large enough to divide between them. Each baby had her own heart, making them excellent candidates for separation surgery.
When she first learned the girls were conjoined, Maggie said in a video, “I paused, and I was little nervous. But I turned to Dom and I said ‘That’s okay. We’ll just separate them.’”
The couple moved from Chicago to Philadelphia to receive specialized care during the remainder of Maggie’s pregnancy and for the first part of the girls’ young lives. They worked closely with doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to receive world-class care for her unique high-risk pregnancy, delivery, and beyond.
A high-risk scheduled C-section delivery on November 18th, 2020 brought Addison Hope and Liliana Faith into the world. Soon after, a specialized medical team worked hard to prepare the girls for their upcoming separation surgery with physical therapy.
Maggie said in an interview with Today that during the day of the surgery, “The whole day was very peaceful. We gave it to God, and we’ve done that throughout this whole journey.”
The family of four is together and happy back home in Chicago. The girls continue to use ventilators and feeding tubes, and doctors are hopeful they can eventually be weaned off the ventilators. Addy and Lily are thriving and doing well with their independence, yet they still share a unique bond common to siblings, and especially twins.
“Any time they’re close, they’re reaching for each others’ hands and faces and breathing tubes,” dad Dom said in an interview with Today.
The Altobellis’ faith is strong and evident throughout their trials.
“This is our journey. It’s a very special one in many ways,” said Maggie. “These girls are going to live long, healthy lives. It’s pretty miraculous and unbelievable that we’re living this life.”
With the widespread audience of the Today Show, God just got a big endorsement on national TV.
In an increasingly secular America, the faithful can take heart and be strengthened by the Altobelli family.