Kathy Willens  /  AP
Clarence Aguirre, left, looks at his brother, Carl, on Aug. 10, the first day that the formerly conjoined twins could see each other, at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.
updated 8/10/2004 5:27:13 PM ET 2004-08-10T21:27:13

Six days after surgeons separated them, 2-year-old twins Carl and Clarence Aguirre got their first looks at each other on Tuesday — but seemed more interested in their mother and a television set.

The two boys from the Philippines, who were joined at the tops of their heads until a 17-hour operation Wednesday, also were breathing on their own, had been taken off painkillers and were propped into semi-sitting positions in their side-by-side beds at Montefiore Medical Center.

Until Tuesday, the boys had seen each other’s faces only in mirrors and photographs.

An Associated Press reporter and photographer were allowed into the boys’ room in the pediatric intensive care unit Tuesday. Though the boys occasionally glanced at each other, they were still drowsy and drifted in and out of sleep.

Their mother, Arlene Aguirre, cajoled them: “Carl, where’s your brother? Clarence, where’s your brother?”

The boys’ plastic surgeon, Dr. David Staffenberg, also took up the cause.

“Clarence, look at your brother,” he said. But nothing happened and Staffenberg tried again. “He never listens.”

'Moving along at light speed'
At least once, however, after their beds were moved to make it easier, Clarence did appear to look at Carl, but Carl was snoozing.

When awake, the boys seemed happiest when looking at their mother and a television set.

Staffenberg had helped separate the boys in four major operations conducted over 11 months.

“We really expected them to do well but they’ve exceeded our best expectations,” Staffenberg said

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“This is by far the earliest time babies like this have been able to come off the ventilator,” he added. “They have been moving along at light speed.”

The boys’ pediatrician, Dr. Robert Marion, agreed: “It’s unbelievable. They’re doing better than almost any kids who’ve had craniofacial surgery, let alone this complex surgery.”

With the boys sitting up a bit, Marion said, they would be able to eat solid food in the next day or two.

Montefiore spokesman Steve Osborne said a collection of fluid on Carl’s brain, mentioned at a news conference Monday by a neurosurgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, had still not become a serious issue.

“From a neurological point of view we have seen no deficit in either of these kids,” Goodrich said. He said it would be two to three weeks “before I really know things are well healed up and the issues that we’re worried about post-operatively have cleared.”

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