Gary D. Bramnick  /  AP
Pediatric intensive care nurse Marcel Stevenson tends to Carl Aguirre, right, in a bed beside his brother Clarence on Thursday after a team of surgeons successfully separated the conjoined twins at Montifiore's Children's Hospital in the Bronx, New York.
updated 8/9/2004 2:19:15 PM ET 2004-08-09T18:19:15

The mother of twin toddlers who were born joined at the head said Monday that as the boys recover from their separation surgery, she cherishes the chance to cuddle them one by one.

“For two years, I never held them separately,” Arlene Aguirre told reporters at the hospital where Carl and Clarence underwent a 17-hour operation last week.

Aguirre said she was aware the procedure was risky, but never doubted that she made the right decision.

“I knew I might lose one of them, but it never stopped me,” she said, adding that the boys were “in good hands” with the staff at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

The hospital said thousands of well-wishers around the world have sent heartfelt e-mails in support of the boys and Aguirre, who brought them to New York from the Philippines last year.

“This is really amazing. ... I’m just a single mother,” she said.

No major problems
Dr. James Goodrich, a neurosurgeon who led the separation surgery, said no major problems had developed since the operation and that Clarence would probably be taken off a ventilator later Monday. Some fluid had been detected on Carl’s brain, but there was no need to treat it immediately, he said.

Since the operation, the boys have shared a room in the pediatric intentive care unit, sedated to prevent them from moving too much. Doctors say the sedation is likely to be lightened soon.

The twins still face several more operations — their skulls, for instance, still need to be reconstructed — but doctors and relatives are pleased with their progress. The process differed from previous separations in that doctors performed a number of surgeries over several months.

Aguirre told “Dateline NBC” she has big plans for her sons.

“What I’m really planning for them, if I really can afford, is for them to go to medical school,” she said in an interview aired Sunday. “One is the neurosurgeon and one is the plastic surgeon.”

She has more immediate hopes as well.

“I’m hoping I can see them running, walking,” she said, “just like normal babies.”

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