Conjoined Twins Separated by Surgical Team at Phoenix Children's Hospital

A team of surgeons and nurses at Phoenix Children's Hospital early this morning finished a 17-hour operation to separate conjoined twins.

The hospital staff released these photos this afternoon to tout the achievement and the national media attention it brought. NBC's Today Show is scheduled to report live tomorrow morning from the hospital.

The twins, Angel and Alex Mendoza, were "conjoined at the abdomen and pelvis and shared a liver," says a statement from the hospital.

According to news reports, the twins are "doing great" but still face a tough road ahead of more operations.

Stories about conjoined people, (a.k.a. "Siamese Twins, after the famed Chang Brothers), are fascinating for a host of reasons: the medical issues, the religious questions, the overall visual freakiness.

Though we can't seem to get enough of "separated at birth" stories, tales of grown conjoined twins are even more compelling, if not just for the mind-blowing concept of being permanently attached to a sibling.

Two of the most famous American conjoined twins are Abigail and Brittany Hensley, (below). We couldn't watch the YouTube video of these girls without pondering some of life's Big Questions.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.