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Surgeons successfully separate 13-month-old conjoined twins in New York

New York — Twin baby boys conjoined at the head were successfully separated early Friday at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

Jadon and Anias McDonald, 13-month-old twins, were still undergoing individual surgeries at 6 a.m. to reconstruct their skulls and make them whole.

The surgery was led by Dr. James Goodrich, considered the leading expert on what’s known as craniopagus surgery. The separation part of the surgery took nearly 16.5 hours.

It marked the seventh separation surgery performed by Goodrich — and just the 59th craniopagus separation surgery in the world since 1952.

Their parents, Nicole and Christian McDonald, had to make an agonizing decision, opting for the procedure even though it carried major risks, including the possibility of death or long-term brain damage for one or both boys.

Goodrich informed the family of the separation around 3 a.m.

“Well, we did it,” Goodrich said.

On her Facebook page, Nicole wrote: “TWO SEPARATE BABIES!!!…and yet I ache with the uncertainty of the future. I didn’t cry until the surgeons left the room. I was barely able to even utter the words ‘thank you’ because of the pit that still sits heavy in my stomach. We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown. The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks.”

The moment capped an end to an agonizing wait for the boys’ parents.

The McDonalds and Montefiore hospital invited CNN to document this remarkable and rare journey of Jadon and Anias, allowing CNN exclusive access to the operating room throughout the procedure.

Before Nicole and Christian learned their boys were now two individuals, Thursday was a day of high emotion and high stakes, of anxious parents and calm medical professionals. It was a day of unchartered territory and amazing, one-of-a-kind surgical activity.

And amid it all were two infants — beautiful boys with deep brown eyes and a shared swirl of hair at the top of their foreheads. They came into the world together, and became two individual boys overnight.