Surgery of the Century: Celebrating One Year
An update on formerly-conjoined twins JamieLynn and AmieLynn.
By Ashley Antle
Today marks one year since cheers rang out and tears of joy streamed in a private family waiting area at Cook Children’s Medical Center - Fort Worth following a long-awaited and monumental announcement to the parents and family of conjoined twins JamieLynn and AmieLynn Finley.
“You have two babies on two separate beds.”
The declaration that the sisters were successfully separated in an 11-hour surgery performed by a team of 25 medical professionals, including six surgeons, was more than a year in the making. Planning and preparation for the twins’ complex care and intricate surgery began months before the girls were born. Back then, all hoped and prayed for the best, but few could imagine that seven short months after their separation JamieLynn would take her first steps, followed by sister AmieLynn a month later. Today, they’re moving at a toddler’s pace, keeping mom and dad on their toes and on high alert.
A Look Back
The sisters’ story began like many others. Parents James Finley and Amanda Arciniega wanted to add one more baby to their family of five. Little did they know, or expect, their hope of one more would become a gift of two.
Shortly after learning of the pregnancy, Finely and Arciniega were presented with the news of a serious complication. Their twins were joined at the abdomen and shared a liver. The revelation set into motion a series of events that led the family to Cook Children’s Medical Center, where a team of physicians and medical professionals across multiple specialties collaborated for months to care for the girls and plan and practice the complex surgery to separate them.
On January 23, 2023, JamieLynn and AmieLynn became the first set of conjoined twins to be separated at Cook Children’s. The day was proclaimed JamieLynn and AmieLynn Day by the Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court in April 2023, shortly after the girls were released from the hospital.
A Full and Exciting Year
It’s been a year full of life’s first for the girls, with every milestone made magical considering how they’re journey began. In October, JamieLynn and AmieLynn celebrated their first birthday. They’re learning to talk, too. “Momma,” “dada” and “Bubbles,” the name of the family dog, are among their first words in an ever-growing vocabulary. Strike up a game of paddy cake, and they giggle, wiggle and jive. Their dad says it’s their favorite thing to play together or with others.
A History-Making Team
The sisters’ separation made headlines around the world with stories appearing on local and national news outlets, including the Today Show, CBS News, Good Morning America and People magazine, to name a few. In December, the Texas Hospital Association (THA) highlighted the twins’ health care team, affectionately dubbed Team JamieLynn and AmieLynn, for THA’s 12 Days of Health Care Heroes recognition.
Jose Iglesias, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Surgery at Cook Children’s, was the lead surgeon on the case. In an interview shortly before surgery day, Dr. Iglesias talked about the privilege of being trusted with the historic surgery.
“It is always an honor and one that I do not take lightly when a parent entrusts me with their most prized possession. The opportunity to separate conjoined twins is an exceptional privilege most pediatric surgeons never get. It is only because we are standing on the shoulders of giants who have trained us, and incredible leaders who have laid the groundwork for this extraordinary institution that we are able to fulfill our Promise. In 105 years, Cook Children’s has never been presented with the opportunity to care for conjoined twins. This will forever be a part of our history, and it is a great honor to all of us that Amanda and James have entrusted us to provide care to AmieLynn and JamieLynn.”
Happy Separation Day to JamieLynn and AmieLynn! Everyone at Cook Children’s is so proud to be a part of your story. And to Amanda and James, happy toddler chasing! May every step be a magical reminder of how far your strong and resilient daughters have come.