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Durham couple arranges surgery to separate Ugandan conjoined twins

The journey to a successful separation of conjoined twins began with a plea from a minister in East Africa.

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DURHAM, N.C. — The journey to a successful separation of conjoined twins began with a plea from a minister in East Africa.

"They really need your prayers and don't know what to do," Jodi Tucker recalls reading the Facebook post while sitting in her Durham home.

Two girls joined at the spine and pelvis had been born in a Ugandan village so remote that it could be reached only by footpath. The girls' mother had to ride to a crude clinic on the back of a bicycle.

Tucker heads an advocacy group for orphaned children and has adopted Ugandan children. Within hours of reading the Facebook post, she and her husband, Jerry Tucker, raised the money needed to send the twins, Acin and Apio, to Kampala, Uganda, for a procedure that would enable them to eat.

If not separated, however, Jodi Tucker said she knew the girls would die within a year.

"We have everything. We sit in our comfortable home on a cul-de-sac, you know. These kids have no hope," she said.

So, the Tuckers worked to provide some hope. They filled out visa forms, paid passport fees and had the twins and their mother flown to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

They arrived last December and spent about nine months preparing for the complex separation surgery.

The 16-hour procedure was performed on Sept. 3. Doctors and nurses donated their time, and the hospital did not charge the family for the use of the facility.

"Honestly, when I saw them separated and looking at each other face to face, I just thought how miraculous the Lord is," Jodi Tucker said. "So many things had to fall perfectly into place for that to happen, and to me, it just felt like a beautiful miracle of God."

Acin and Apio are healthy and recovering from surgery. Doctors are working on a plan to transition them back to Uganda and ensure they get the medical care there that they will need.


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