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Conjoined twin boys separated at the age of five

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The surgery took 18 hours.

After being surgically separated, previously conjoined twin Heitor Rocha has impressed his doctors and family with his remarkable development and determination. Unfortunately, his twin brother Artur passed two days following the operation.

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MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Conjoined twins are usually separated before they turn a year old but the Rocha twins, Artur and Heitor, were too weak for surgery. 

According to The Daily Mail, the pair also lacked enough skin to cover their wounds after the operation.

At the age of 5-years-old, the boys decided to pursue their independence despite sharing a bladder, intestines, liver and genitals. Their parents agreed they deserved a better quality of life and scheduled the operation to separate them. 

Their mother, Eliane Rocha, explained that the two were excited for the life that awaited them - doing things on their own, individually and independently.

"When I talked to them about the big surgery, they said they want to be separated. It's not just mine and my family's will, it's theirs too. They want to be independent. They want to make their own decisions about where to go. They'd want to play different games, or go to different places and we had to try and make them understand that they had to take turns," said Mrs. Rocha.

The pair underwent 15 different procedures to grow extra skin in preparation of the surgery. As they grew, the surgery became necessary because Heitor's weight began to cause Artur pain. 

Dr. Zachariuas Calil, their pediatrician and surgeon, said that they anticipated complications due to the body's natural reaction upon separation and organ divisions. However he could not have predicted what would befall young Artur. 

Two days after the 18-hour surgery, Artur passed away due to cardiac arrest. He had been weak and suffered a fever following the surgery.

Despite the loss of his brother, Heitor recovered well and continues to show remarkable determination. He is reportedly stronger and is learning how to walk. He is also eating well on a normal diet, said Dr. Calil. The pediatrician noted that his intestines and kidney are working fine.

Heitor's pain from the loss of Artur has been curbed by his mother, who said, "I told Heitor not to worry because Artur is living in his little heart, and has become his guardian angel." 

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