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Doctors begin lifting twins out of coma

Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim were two of the about 2 percent of conjoined twins who are connected head-to-head.

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The two formerly conjoined twin boys are recovering well.
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CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh reports that the separated twins have a long road to recovery.
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Conjoined twins
Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim

(CNN) -- Doctors in Dallas, Texas, began to lift formerly conjoined twins Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim out of their drug-induced comas after the Egyptian boys spent another stable night in intensive care, a doctor said Wednesday.

"All in all, medical team members are delighted with the progress," said Dr. James Thomas, director of critical care at Children's Medical Center. But, he warned, "all of us remain vigilant to possible complications."

The 2-year-old boys, whose heads had been joined since birth, are slowly being taken off sedatives to allow them to come out of the comas they have been in since the surgery. The comas have helped limit post-operative swelling of their brains, which doctors separated as part of the operation.

The hospital has warned that the twins remain at risk for infection following the 34-hour procedure that ended Sunday. In addition to swelling of the brain, the possible formation of blood clots that could lead to strokes also has been a concern.

But Thomas said that the medical team is optimistic about the twins' progress, with early tests showing all of their organ systems were functioning well and no signs of infection as they remain on ventilators.

"We look at medical care as a continuous process," he said. "To us, every day they do well, don't do poorly, is a day to be excited about."

The twins face a rehabilitation process that will help them develop motor skills they've been unable to learn as a result of being physically joined together, Thomas said.

The twins will have to adapt socially, too. Thomas said the team would like to monitor the boys to see how their social development adapts now that they were separated and able to interact with others differently.

Ahmed and Mohamed remain in separate rooms, spending their first nights apart in special beds that levitate them on a cushion of air to prevent bedsores and limit the risk of infection. Visitors, mostly family members, can visit two at a time.

The boys were born about 500 miles south of Cairo. The World Craniofacial Foundation helped organize the endeavor and paid their way to Dallas. The foundation has raised $125,000 for the separation surgery, which could cost $2 million, according to the group's Web site. The hospital and medical team are donating their services, the foundation said.

The twins' deformity, called craniopagus twinning, occurs in one in 10 million births, according to the foundation. About 2 percent of conjoined twins are connected head-to-head.

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