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Formerly conjoined twins arrive in area after months in Philadelphia hospital

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BELLEVILLE — Formerly conjoined twins received a warm welcome as they arrived in the north country for the first time in their young lives.

Amelia L. and Allison J. Tucker, 10 months, have lived at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pa., since their birth March 1 in a planned Caesarean-section delivery.

About 25 friends and neighbors braved the chilly weather to welcome the Tucker family Thursday evening with a makeshift parade in the parking lot of the school.

“I can’t even come up with words,” said Shellie L. Tucker, the girls’ mother. She and her husband, Greg E., were escorted to Belleville Henderson Central School by trucks from the Belleville and Henderson fire departments. Mrs. Tucker said she was not told about the gathering until she saw the trucks’ flashing lights.

Before the Tuckers’ arrival, Sharon W. Carr could not hold back tears as she talked about her excitement for Mrs. Tucker, a former French student of hers at Belleville Henderson, and her twins. A fellow parishioner of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, Adams, Mrs. Carr said she saw the hand of God in the twins’ progress.

“I love babies anyway, and these two are very special babies,” Mrs. Carr said.

The twins were born joined at the lower chest and abdomen and shared their chest wall, diaphragm, pericardium and liver. Amelia and Allison were separated Nov. 7, in a surgery that took a team of 40 doctors more than seven hours, and were publicly introduced Dec. 20. Dr. Holly L. Hedrick, who led the surgical team, said in December that the girls should both go on to lead full, healthy and independent lives.

The Tuckers also have a son, Owen W., 2.

As well-wishers circled the Tuckers’ vehicle, the twins slept quietly in matching coats and hats. Both girls had small feeding tubes running to their bodies from small bags placed in front of them.

Mrs. Tucker’s father, Larry R. Ambeau, described the past year of medical worries as a series of peaks and valleys, even up to this Monday, when the timing of the family’s return was in question.

“They did well,” he said. “I’m proud of my daughter.”

Mr. Ambeau said his granddaughters will have appointments with doctors to monitor their progress.

Mr. Tucker, an Atlanta native, said the support he and his wife have received in the past few months is a reflection of the type of community in which they live.

“Everybody’s been there for us,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder.”

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