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Conjoined twins successfully separated in Jacksonville

Carter and Conner Mirabal, 5 months old, were born attached at the torso

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(Courtesy of Wolfson Children's Hospital)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's first conjoined twins have been successfully separated after a day-long surgery by a joint team from Wolfson Children's Hospital and Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

Doctors said the boys are recovering well.

Carter and Conner Mirabal are just about 5 months old, and for the first time, the boys are separated.

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The twins were born in Jacksonville in December and were joined at the torso and had fused livers.

Conjoined twins are rare and a lot of them don't survive. Experts said the boys could have died if surgeons didn't separate them very early in life. So they planned for months, gathered a team of the best of the best and pulled off the first surgery of its kind in Jacksonville.

Waiting was the hardest part for the boys' parents. For 12 tense hours, Bryan Mirabal and Michelle Brantley sat in a room as a team of 17 doctors and nurses performed the surgery.

"It's a very risky situation. I was scared, you know?" Mirabal said.

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The good news finally came when the surgeons told the twins' family the boys were separated and it looked like they were going to be OK.

"I can't word anything right now," Brantley said. "I can't at all."

Carter and Conner's parents said the surgery was a huge success.

"I couldn't be more ecstatic," Mirabal said. "Everything's been so perfect. It's worked out so well. It's a blessing is what it is."

A surgical team spent two months prepping and put the babies under the knife on Thursday.

"They're doing awesome. They're still critically ill. They're both on ventilators and getting a lot of support, but they're doing remarkably well for what they've been through," said Dr. Solange Benjamin with Wolfson Children's Hospital.

The twins are recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson. It'll be a long process, but their futures are promising.

"We expect them to have normal lives," Benjamin said. "They're going to be active, playful, rambunctious little boys."

"You get to see them live their own life. They get to do their own thing," Mirabal said. "Conner is the troublemaker. He was always beating his brother when they were connected. Carter is the quiet one, not as out going."

For the first time, Carter and Conner are sleeping in separate beds.

"It's crazy. Every time I go there I'm like, 'I have to go in one room, and then another room,'" Brantley said.

And for their parents, the day has been a long time coming after a very big surgery that's taught them to appreciate the little things.

"When I get my kids home, my first plan is to get a life vest that can fit them and put them on my boat," Mirabal said. "I wanna take my boys fishing so bad it's not even funny."

The twins' parents got to go see them Monday in the ICU. Doctors said the boys could be able to go home in as little as a month.

Their parents said they can't thank everyone enough for all the love and support, and they said the hospital and staff have been amazing every step of the way.