“You really see them playing together now,” says Alusine.
While Chelsea may be smaller, “she has a lot of spunk to her and a lot of strength. Maggie seemed much easier to soothe and a little more docile,” says Dr. Imahiyerobo.
But there’s no doubt they share the same determination. “When I would look them in the eye,” says Dr. Imahiyerobo, “they always seemed to be saying, ‘We got this.’”
After the twins were discharged, Chelsea and Maggie continued to receive follow-up care at the hospital.
The girls used feeding tubes as they underwent speech and swallowing therapy because after major surgery, “it’s not unusual that young children forget how to eat and lose muscle coordination,” says Dr. Martinez.
In terms of their gross motor skills, “their development was delayed because of the connection through the abdomen and their prolonged hospitalization,” says Dr. Martinez. “But they are now walking after receiving intense occupational and physical therapies.”
More than a year after their initial separation surgery, “the girls are thriving. They are growing and making progress in achieving developmental milestones,” says Dr. Martinez. “They both have an opportunity to go forward from here, reaching new heights individually, each as her own person, which never could have been possible without the separation surgery.”
A chance for a better life is all Isatu and Alusine ever wanted for their daughters. “We went through a lot before the separation,” says Alusine. “We give thanks to each and every one in this hospital.”
The family recently returned to NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital to thank each of the team members who helped their daughters. “Now they get to be like all the other kids,” Isatu said, as the girls toddled around the hospital courtyard. “We are so grateful to everyone who helped us.”
The Jalloh family also left a lasting impression on their care team.
“Amid all that New York has faced in the past year, seeing the girls now walking side by side — still connected in spirit, though separated in body — is really such a treat,” says Dr. Imahiyerobo. “As opposed to some of the challenges and disheartening things that we saw, the girls really signify that, even in the midst of the global pandemic, there were still good things happening — and there were still some things that gave us reason to have hope.”