LOS ANGELES -- It was a special holiday reunion at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA for formerly conjoined twins, Josie and Teresita Alvarez.
The twins were separated at the hospital in 2002. They returned Monday to visit patients and thank the medical team who cared for them.
It was a moment 13 years in the making. Some medical staff at the hospital got to see Josie and Teresita for the first time since their separation surgery.
"To see all the other nurses and all the staff that we haven't seen is such a treat for them," said Jenny Hull, Josie's adoptive mother.
The formerly conjoined twins underwent a 23-hour surgery to get separated. Now at the age of 14, the girls returned to the hospital to volunteer and share some holiday joy.
"I got to help decorate the rooms and just make those kids happy," Josie said.
After the operation, the girls returned to their native Guatemala, but due to their fragile medical condition, they returned to the U.S. for additional treatment.
"One of them was quite good, moving around and whatnot, and you hope the other one gets better, and she slowly seems to be doing a little bit better," said Dr. Henry Kawamoto, a plastic surgeon.
The twins now live with separate families but remain really close. Meanwhile, Josie hopes to continue to volunteer at the hospital where she spent her first Christmas as a separate individual.
"I am really thankful for this hospital because if I wasn't here, I won't be alive right now," Josie said.
The girls are turning 15 years old next year and say they're looking forward to their quinceanera. null
Formerly conjoined twins reunite with hospital staff 13 years later