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Conjoined twins Nima, right, and Dawa, left, sit on an armchair at Miracle sMiles Retreat in East Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, on Nov. 2.
Daniel Pockett, EPA-EFE

Conjoined twins, 15-month-old girls, were separated in an intense six-hour surgery in Australia on Friday.

Nima and Dawa Pelden were connected at the torso and shared a liver. Before the surgery, doctors at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital were unsure if the two also shared a bowel — which would have been an added complication.

"We always felt confident that we could achieve this," lead surgeon Joe Crameri said at a news conference. "But we just did not know what we would find."

A team of about 25 clinicians, including the Bhutan pediatrician who had treated the girls since birth, successfully separated the baby girls, dividing their liver. The girls did not happen to share a bowel. 

Crameri said the babies are now recovering "well" and breathing independently. 

The twins traveled with their mother from the Himalayan nation of Bhutan to Australia, a 26-hour flight with a stop in Bangkok, for the surgery, according to News Corp Australia

“These little girls are extra special because if we didn’t do this surgery … we are just concerned whether they would live,” Elizabeth Lodge, Children First Foundation CEO, told Australian media.

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Conjoined twins are extremely rare, and often die in the womb or shortly after birth, Mayo Clinic notes. The success of separation surgery often depends on how many organs the twins share. 

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This photo provided by RCH Melbourne Creative Studio, shows surgery on the 15-month-old girls at the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Australia Friday, Nov. 8.

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