For Immediate Use
June 7, 2002
Ten-month old Guatemalan twins, joined at the tops of their heads, will arrive today at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, where a team of physicians will evaluate them for separation surgery. Named Maria Teresa and Maria de Jesus Quiej Alvarez, the girls were born July 25, 2001 in a rural area of Guatemala. Currently, the twins are active, alert and appear in good health. Their mother, Alba Leticia Alvarez, will be traveling with them. Their father, Wenceslao Quiej Lopez, will remain in Guatemala. The twins are the couple's first children.
A nonprofit group called Healing The Children organized efforts to bring the girls to UCLA. Several months ago, the organization approached Dr. Jorge Lazareff, a pediatric neurosurgeon at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital and volunteer neurosurgeon with Healing The Children, for help in accepting the twins' cases. Dr. Lazareff and UCLA plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Henry Kawamoto are leading the team of physicians and medical staff who will evaluate and treat the twins.
Craniopagus twins — those who are fused at the tops of their heads — are one of the rarest types of conjoined twins. An estimated two percent of conjoined twins are craniopagus.
All of the UCLA doctors on the twins' cases are donating their time and services. However, additional medical expenses are expected to cost the hospital upwards of $1.5 million. Healing The Children is accepting donations on behalf of the twins at Box 221478, Newhall, CA 91322. See www.healingchildren.org for more details.