Two formerly conjoined twins wore their quinceañera dresses Thursday at Children's Hospital Los Angeles for a celebration of their achievements, and so the girls and their families could thank the medical team that has helped them over the years.
Josie Hull and Teresa Cajas, 15, have had 32 surgeries and procedures led by Children's Hospital staff since 2004. The girls and their families thanked the specialists in neurosurgery, neurology, orthopaedics, and reconstructive plastic surgery who have helped them at the event Thursday, according to a spokesman for the hopital.
Born in Guatemala, the twins underwent a 23 hour separation surgery in 2002 at UCLA, and were given to families in Southern California, "where they would have a better chance at survival," according to the hospital's website. Josie's mother, Jenny Hull, called the twins' biological parents "heroes" for making the "ultimate sacrifice" for their children to get the care they needed in America.
Due to the complex follow-up care required for both girls, both families transferred them to Children's Hospital Los Angeles in 2004.
Top news of the day
"We are just so impressed with this hospital and everything they've done for us, and today is just a prime example of how much they truly care about children," Hull said. "Really we're celebrating the staff here, because they're the ones who have gotten us to 15. Not only because of their medical care, but because of their compassion and their love. These girls are thriving because of this hospital."
The girls donned the dresses they will wear to their quinceañera on Aug. 7, so the staff could see their dresses and celebrate the girls' achievements.
"I'm happy today for Teresa and Josie," Teresa's mother, Florie Cajas said. "Teresa now is very healthy but many years ago she is very very sick, but now she is well."
"Teresa just lights up the world with her little spirit," Hull said, noting that their families didn't know if she would make it past two years of age. "To see her here at 15, to watch her dance with her dad at the quinceañera on Sunday, I think we'll need some Kleenex."
Hull said that Josie is fully functioning in school, has many friends and "really is a typical kid," doing things like dancing, swimming, and singing.
"As two mothers of two very, very special girls, our story started many years ago, but it's still a lot of happiness and joy, and we are just blessed to be a part of that story and part of these girls lives," Hull said. "I think they change us, and I think they've changed our communities, and I know they've changed the world."
"Thank you Children's Hospital Los Angeles and to the doctors, nurses, and all the staff here, we are eternally grateful for what you do for us," Hull added.