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Formerly conjoined twins return to United States after setbacks
GUATEMALA CITY -- Two Guatemalan girls born joined at the head but separated by U.S. doctors flew to Los Angeles on Thursday to receive medical treatment after suffering setbacks in their recovery.
Maria de Jesus Quiej Alvarez and Maria de Teresa Quiej Alvarez arrived at the airport in separate ambulances. Their mother, Alba Leticia Alvarez, carried Maria de Jesus in her arms, and their father arrived with Maria de Teresa, who was using oxygen to breath.
Both girls were loaded onto a private plane, along with a U.S. doctor, and flown to the United States. Their parents stayed in Guatemala, and it was unclear if they would travel to Los Angeles on a later flight.
The girls had been scheduled to travel to the United States in the coming weeks for a routine checkup, but the trip was moved up after both experienced health problems.
Maria de Jesus was rushed to a hospital on Wednesday with a fever and convulsions, and her sister may have to undergo surgery in the United States, Dr. Ludwig Ovalle said.
Maria de Teresa is recovering from a May 2 operation to replace a valve, which relieves pressure on the girl's brain by allowing accumulated liquid to escape. The current valve replaced another that was removed April 15 because it had become infected with E. coli.
Doctors said both girls were well enough to travel.
Born July 25, 2001, in Mazatenango, 110 miles southeast of Guatemala City, the twins drew the attention of Guatemalan and U.S. medical charities.
Operation lasted 23 hours
The Guatemalan Pediatric Foundation and other humanitarian groups raised the money to have the two separated Aug. 6 at the Mattel Children's Hospital of the University of California, Los Angeles. The operation lasted 23 hours and made headlines around the world.
The twins returned to Guatemala in January, and their parents were given a new house in the capital so they could be near their daughters' doctors.
It was unclear how long they would stay in the United States.