Twins who were born conjoined and given just a 20% chance of survival are preparing to start school.
Rosie and Ruby Formosa were joined at the abdomen and shared part of their intestine before they had an emergency operation to separate them in 2012.
Their mother, Angela Formosa, said the four-year-olds, from Bexleyheath in south-east London, were “very excited” to be starting school.
“Four years ago it wasn’t in my mind that this would ever happen,” she said.
“When I was pregnant I didn’t think I’d ever see their first day at school so it is really amazing and all thanks to Gosh [Great Ormond Street Hospital] really.”
‘Headstrong and determined’
Mrs Formosa said it was “heartbreaking” for her and their father Daniel Formosa when they discovered the girls had the rare medical condition, which occurs in one in every 200,000 live births.
The girls were born at University College Hospital in London by caesarean section in 2012 when Mrs Formosa was 34 weeks pregnant.
Within a couple of hours of being born, they were taken to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for emergency surgery because of an intestinal blockage.
Mrs Formosa, 35, said it felt like “a million years” ago since she was waiting for the girls to come out of their surgery.
“The time has just flown by, I can’t believe how fast it has gone,” she said.
“They are very excited [about starting school]; their big sister is in school so they can’t wait. They’ve met their teacher a few times and they love their teacher. They’re looking forward to painting, anything messy, they love reading.
“They are very similar, they are very bubbly little girls, they are very headstrong and very determined, which I knew they were from when they were in my belly because of the way they kept growing and surviving.”
Professor Paolo De Coppi, consultant paediatric surgeon at Gosh, said: “We’re thrilled that Rosie and Ruby are starting school this September.
“It’s always a joy to witness patients’ progress and to hear that they are reaching new milestones – this makes the job we do all the more rewarding.”