One of two formerly conjoined twins born to Wisconsin parents was discharged from the hospital Thursday, and their doctor said he hopes the other twin can be released in about a week.
Six-month-old McHale Twain Shaw, who was separated from brother Mateo Asher Shaw in September, was released from Children's National Medical Center. McHale and parents Angie Benzschawel, 25, and Ryan Shaw, 28, of Sheboygan, Wis., will stay at a nearby apartment.
"It was very emotional to be able to finally bring our son home," Benzschawel said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press about 20 minutes after returning from the hospital. "We've never been able to walk with him without wires, without a monitor, without oxygen. This was the first time we could actually walk him just being a baby and take him outside."
Both parents said it didn't feel real leaving the hospital with their boy after all this time.
"It was a weird feeling carrying him in his car seat," said Shaw. "It's awesome, for sure. We're finally there — at least halfway there."
The chief surgeon on the case, Dr. Robert Keating, said McHale's condition was excellent.
"At this point, we're comfortable enough that he's doing great from a medical standpoint," Keating said in a telephone interview. "There are no pending issues or problems that would warrant his observation at the hospital."
The twins were born May 10 joined at the lower back and with conjoined spinal cords.
Both boys had shunts put in to drain spinal fluid, but doctors had to remove Mateo's after he developed an infection. Keating said the plan is to put in a shunt next Tuesday, with the goal of having Mateo released by the following weekend.
"Hopefully he'll be behind his brother by about a week," said Keating. "He's eating like a pro, he's gaining weight."
Both boys have spina bifida, a defect that leaves the spine incompletely closed. McHale has the more pronounced case, leading doctors to predict that he would have a harder time walking and getting around than his brother.
But Keating said McHale has been moving his feet and legs.
"I would expect he will have function in his lower extremities," he said. "What that will mean as far as running and walking — time will tell. But he does move his feet, so that makes us optimistic."
"We're halfway there, having one of the babies go home," Keating added. "At this point we're on target, and it's been a great experience."
Shaw said he hoped the family would be home in Wisconsin by early next month.
The family has set up a fund for the boys, the Mateo and McHale Shaw Fund, in care of the Kohler Credit Union, 850 Woodlake Road, Kohler, Wis., 53044.