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- October 01, 2012
- Vol. 78
- No. 14
An Unbreakable Bond
Ten Years After Surgery, Formerly Conjoined Twins Josie and Teresa Have Different Adoptive Families and Lead Vastly Different Lives. But They're as Close as Sisters Can Be
It took love as well as luck to get to this day. Born joined at the head in a Guatemalan village to Wenceslao, 31, and Leticia Quiej-Alvarez, 32, the girls were not expected to live more than a year. But with help from the nonprofit Healing the Children, the family was flown by private jet to Los Angeles. There the twins underwent a grueling 23-hour separation surgery on Aug. 5, 2002, at UCLA Medical Center, which made international headlines (PEOPLE, Aug. 26, 2002).
The joy at that successful operation was followed by a tougher reality. Back in Guatemala, Teresa contracted a brain infection that left her in need of round-the-clock care. Josie battled seizures and other medical problems. To ensure their daughters' survival, the Quiej-Alvarezes made the gut-wrenching decision to allow their American hosts-Jenny Hull, 41, for Josie, and Werner, 51, and Florie Cajas, 50, for Teresa-to adopt the girls. (The birth parents visit twice a year.)
Now Hull and the Cajases are like one family, getting the girls together several times a week for physical therapy, shared meals and just plain sister time. "They have a deep love," Hull says. "It is beautiful."
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