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Edward Linsmier, Deseret Morning News
Jake Herrin says daughters Maliyah and Kendra are "doing great" after separation surgery. He is with daughter Courtney and wife Erin at a press conference at Primary Children's Medical Center.

They've given their parents high-fives, have laughed at their big sister's jokes and are "doing great." That's the update on Maliyah and Kendra Herrin, formerly conjoined twins who were separated during a 26-hour surgery a week ago.

The 4-year-old twins, who share a room at Primary Children's Medical Center, have reached out in an attempt to touch each other, Erin Herrin said at a press conference Monday, but their beds can't be moved quite close enough. So the Herrins have had to be inventive, holding mirrors in front of the twins so they can see each other, Erin explained.

Maliyah and Kendra are still "pretty heavily drugged," their father, Jake, said. But when they're awake they've blown bubbles, listened to stories — and wished out loud that they could eat a real breakfast. The girls have been upgraded from critical to serious condition.

Neither twin has said anything yet about being separate now after four years of being joined at the abdomen, their parents said.

"We're trying to ease them into it," Erin said. "We want them to go at their own pace. When they're ready, they'll ask those questions."

The family has received more than 3,000 e-mails. "People are continuing to pray for us," Erin said. "That means a lot to us, especially since we're not out of the woods yet."

Potential problems include pneumonia and the twins' skin breaking down (their skin had to be stretched so it could be used to cover wounds from the surgery). And then, Erin said, "we're going to be coming to the emotional things. But we'll get through those, too."

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The past week has been exhausting, Erin said. Jake described the ordeal as "the hardest days of our lives but also the best." The best aspect, he said, was "how close we've bonded with all our family."

Less significant but still interesting was his brief encounter Saturday with actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, in town to see the Real-Madrid soccer game. Jake got his picture taken with the pair, and Cruise "acted like maybe he had heard of (the twins' surgery) but didn't know it was here."


E-mail: jarvik@desnews.com