Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A pair of conjoined twins in Nigeria are weeks away from returning home after being successfully separated late last year.
The twin girls Goodness and Mercy Martins were successfully separated by a team of more than 78 people at the National Hospital in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Nov. 14.
The hospital waited to release information about the successful surgery to ensure there were no post-surgery complications. The twins will be able to return home in six weeks.
They were born by cesarean-section on Aug. 13, 2018, attached at the chest and abdomen with a large blood vessel connecting their hearts through their chest walls.
National Hospital spokesman Dr. Tayo Haastrup said Goodness and Mercy are the first pair of conjoined twins to be successfully separated at the government-run specialist.
The procedure took about 13 hours with the team working in two operating theatres to perform the separation.
"We are just happy and proud that the team that worked on this surgery we are all Nigerians. It was done in Nigeria and the parents didn't have to go outside the country," Haastrup said.
Lead surgeon Emmanuel Ameh said plastic surgeons on the team were concerned that a section of the girls' chest would be at risk of infection and they took several weeks to create artificial skin large enough to cover the area.
Chief Medical Director Jah Momoh said the hospital performed the procedure for free after learning the family would not be able to afford it.
"My attention was drawn to their inability to pay for such an expensive medical procedure so we assessed their status and classified them as indigent. We funded their care and major surgeries that separated them," Momoh said. "We ensured that the lack of funds did not stop the beautiful twins from enjoying their lives independently."