Doctors at the Vatican’s pediatric hospital achieved a rare feat after they successfully separated two-year-old twins who were joined at the skull, owing to a rare congenital defect. As per an AFP report, the twins Ervina and Prefina Bangalo’s skulls were fused back-to-back and shared vital blood vessels, a condition that occurs around once in every 2 million births. Also Read - Bengaluru Doctors Perform Rare Surgery After 2-Year-Old Baby Swallows Twin Magnets

It is the first time such an operation had been carried out in Italy. In a lengthy and painstaking procedure that lasted 18 hours, a team of doctors carefully separated critical blood vessels around their brains that they’d both been sharing.

The team described it as “one of the rarest and most complex forms of fusion,” and spent a year preparing for the challenging surgery.

In the past 20 years in Europe, there have been only two successful operations separating twins joined at the top of their skulls.

Notably, the twins, were born on June 29, 2018, in Mbaiki, the Central African Republic and were brought to Italy in September 2018 after the Hospital president Mariella Enoc offered to treat them.

Their mother Ermine thanked the team for treating her daughters and told CNN,  “Ervina and Prefina were born twice. If we had stayed in Africa I don’t know what fate they would have had. My little girls can now grow up, study and become doctors to save other children.”