Monday marked a very special anniversary for both 12-year old twins Clarence and Carl Aguirre and their mother Arlene, as well as the staff at Children’s Hospital at Montefore Medical Center where the once conjoined brothers were finally separated on August 4, 2004 after undergoing 4 surgeries in nine months.
Born in the Phillipines, the Aguirre brothers once shared 5-6 centimeter long “bridge” of brain that had to be split between them. At the time they could not sit up, stand straight, eat normally or even see each other. Although Clarence was left with the ability to play video games and dance, Carl was left with (possibly) permanent brain damage that makes it difficult for him to walk and talk. Still, his mother is very grateful to have both boys alive and in her life.
“When they were born, the doctors at home told me I had to choose which one was to live. I told them I could not do that. The doctors here in New York did not ask me to choose,” Arlene stated. “When the surgery was over, their plastic surgeon, Dr. David Staffenberg told me I was now the mother of two boys.”
To celebrate, Arlene Aguirre (who lives with her son in Scarsdale) said she has two birthday parties for them every year. One on April 21, the day she gave birth, and the other on August 4, when they were “reborn.”
“We are honored to have played a part in helping these boys develop into the unique individual they are today,” commented Dr. Steven Safyer, president and CEO at Montefiore during Monday’s event.
In addition, Dr. James Goodrich, who performed the separation operation noted that up until them “the historic treatment was basically to sacrifice one child in order to save the other.” Since his success with the Clarence and Carl, he and his team have gone on to separate 4 other sets of twins joined at the head in other cities around the world including Melbourne, Riyadh and London.