On Tuesday, Elysse Mata of Littlefield said it’s hard to believe that a year ago, she and her husband Eric were waiting anxiously while doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston performed a 26 hour surgery on their conjoined twin daughters.
Now, the Mata family is back in their Littlefield home, settled in with their children, Azariah, 6, Mia, 5 months, and the twins: Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith, who are 22-months-old.
The twins have shirts that say “1 Year Seperaversary” in memory of February 17 2015.
“That day was crazy,” Elysse said. “Eric and I probably went two days without sleep, then that whole day, started that morning [then the girls went for surgery], hanging out with our family in that little waiting room they had us in.”
“I don’t want to say it was fun because it was a really scary time, but it was good having our family there, our friends,” Elysse said. “It just helped pass the time having all that support and all of our NICU nurses who would come visit us and give us updates.”
Mata said she learned from doctors that because her daughters were conjoined at many vital points, their successful separation surgery was a historic event.
“The girls went through a 26-hour separation surgery,” Elysse said. “They left us early that morning and before midnight they were separated. So to be here a year later after that and after everything is just really exciting, they are healthy, they are happy they are growing.”
The Mata twins visited their doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital again in January, and the medical staffers have been amazed with their progress.
“The girls are both doing so well! Neither have experienced any complications and they are both making steady progress,” said their lead surgeon, Dr. Darrell Cass of Texas Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Cass explained that the staff at Texas Children’s plans to operate on Knatalye again this summer. “To remove the metal struts that were used to stabilize the rib cage and to formally close her chest wall (very much like after a heart surgery),” Cass said.
“We went into this procedure with the hope that we could actually give them a good life, so the fact that we could actually accomplish this is a blessing,” Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital who has also been working with Knatalye and Adeline.
Ms. Mata expects that both the twins will undergo more surgeries, but she said most of those will occur as the girls mature.
While she and her family remain patient and positive, Mata said that supporting her twins through their separation has been frustrating and scary at times.
“I know life gets rough and no matter how dark their days are, you gotta have faith and you gotta have hope and as long as you can remain strong in the Lord, he’ll help pull you through,” Mata said. “He never gives you anything you can’t handle. I mean we lived it, it happened for two years of our lives where we didn’t know what was gonna happen.”
But she explained that all the medical visits, tears, and setbacks are worthwhile to see the progress her “little supergirls” are making.
“You never know what tomorrow’s gonna bring, or what a year later is gonna look like, but we always said we’re gonna give [the twins] a chance. We left it up to God and I mean look at [the twins], they’ve come so far, so it’s just a big sigh of relief to see them.”
“As a mom it’s really good to see your daughters, after what they’ve been through, doing so well. They make me proud,” Mata said.