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Doctors Hopeful For Mexican Twins

Despite initial setbacks, doctors in the western state of Jalisco are hopeful they can separate conjoined twins who share a liver and heart tissue.

Twelve physicians at the Western Medical Center Pediatric Hospital in Guadalajara next month plan to implant small plastic devices to stretch the skin of Marisol and Mariana Villalobos to cover openings left by separation surgery.

If successful, the doctors would then attempt to separate the 3-month-old twins in January.

"The girls aren't sharing a vital organ," said hospital director Dr. Jesus Arriaga. "The separation has a very good chance of being successful."

The girls' parents are Elvira Rodriguez, 35, and Benjamin Villalobos, 32.

The girls were born facing each other. They share a liver and pericardium, the watery sac that encloses the heart, although each infant has her own heart. At 3 months, the twins weigh less than 7 pounds apiece.

The situation has been daunting for Rodriguez and Villalobos, who are struggling to support two boys, ages 3 and 8, on the father's salary as a house painter.

Fortunately, insurance will cover the costs of the surgery.

"We can't imagine them growing up having to walk together all the time, learning together, doing everything joined," Villalobos said.

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