They’ll be home for Christmas.
Seven months after they were born conjoined at the abdomen, twin sisters Jesi and Remi Pitre are headed home on Saturday to Apopka, Florida, where last-minute touches have been finalized to prepare and sanitize the family’s home ahead of their much-anticipated arrival. The homecoming also comes after a total of seven surgeries since the twins were born to Angi and André Pitre on Mother’s Day at the University of Florida Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, where they were later separated from their shared liver and connected intestine in July.
André Pitre, 35, said the girls now have a pediatrician lined up in Apopka, a suburb of Orlando, after Jesi was discharged on Monday following respiratory complications. Remi, meanwhile, had been released from the hospital in October, but stayed in Gainesville at an apartment a few blocks away from the hospital with Angi to make getting to her routine doctor appointments easier and to avoid the 110-mile, one-way trip back home.
“The house has to be sanitized, we have to pack up the apartment that we’ve been living in and that’s pretty much it at this point,” André Pitre told The Post. “We’re just working on getting all that lined up because we have to ensure that Jesi is comfortable on the trip and that they get home safely.”
Pitre estimated that he’s traveled “nearly 10,000 miles” back and forth from the hospital, which the Pitres selected because it had cared for four sets of conjoined twins since 2016, including a successful separation of twins attached at the heart.
“The team of surgeons there are extremely talented,” he said.
Pitre knew his daughters faced long odds from the start, as up to 60 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn, according to the hospital.
“It was a fairly large shock,” he recalled about the moment he and Angi learned they were having conjoined twins, doubling their brood from two children to four. “We found out actually at the first sonogram appointment. So the first time we got to see them, I noticed there were two heartbeats.”
It took a few more weeks to fully confirm the babies were conjoined, something that was extremely intimidating initially, he said.
“But honestly, I’m a very deeply faith-based person so I’ve never had reason to doubt that things would be OK, that things were going to work out exactly the way they were supposed to and as long as I did what I needed to do, things would be all right. So I took comfort in that, but as far as dealing with the emotions of that moment, there was definitely some fear, anxiety and a bit of shock. It was quite a surreal situation.”
The twins “still face a number of hurdles” once back home, however. Jesi remains on oxygen and needs ongoing respiratory support since her lungs are undersized and both girls need feeding tubes. They also both have been diagnosed with torticollis, a condition that causes neck muscles to contract, twisting the head to one side, André Pitre said.
They will also need at least one more surgery within the next year to close their abdominal walls, he said.
But Pitre, who juggles several jobs, said he’s prepared for the unpredictability that awaits him and his young family.
“Well, to be honest, just continuing to grind every minute, every second until I fall over each night,” he said when asked how he has stayed sane. “I’m as prepared as I can be. I know there’s going to be a lot that’s just ineffable, unexplainable, so there definitely is some nervousness along with that. But I know that it’s going to be all right and we’ll get it figured out.”
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