Doctors at Apollo Children’s Hospital, Chennai, India have successfully separated conjoined African twins, Abriana and Adriana. The eight-and-a-half months twins who are from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, were joined at the chest and abdomen. The girls, who shared a single heart cavity and a liver, are now, the first survivors of this type of separation in India, according to the hospital in a live webcast. Dr K S Sivakumar, the hospital’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, said the procedure handled by a team of 50 staff members, such as surgeons, nurses and intensive care specialists, lasted 11 hours.

He said: “This rare procedure involved separation of the pericardium (heart lining), diaphragm and the connected livers. Since 2007, eight pairs of conjoined twins with fused livers and intestines have been reported after separation from various parts of India.” The twins’ state of health was described as thoraco omphalopagus, which means the fusing of two bodies at the lower chest and abdomen. According to the hospital, Abriana and Adriana were conjoined and had been sharing a common heart lining and diaphragm. Besides, they also had a connected liver that had to be separated with minimal blood loss.

According to chairman-founder, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd, Dr Prathap C. Reddy, after being admitted in August last year, Abriana and Adriana, children of Jimmy Mtemi and Carol-yn Zakaria of Dar-es-Salaam, underwent the final separation surgery on November 11, 2014. Indian healthcare, he noted, offered medical treatment for such critical issues at affordable costs than many other countries. “It took seven hours for the surgery and another four hours for closure by plastic surgeons,”Dr Venkata Sripathi, who supervised the surgery, stated.

The surgery, he said, involved separation of the pericardium (heart lining), diaphragm and the connected livers, adding that conjoined births are rare, “one in 50,000 to one in 1 lakh. However, more than 35 per cent die after birth.” Adriana had developed some complications post-surgery and another procedure was carried out on her, details of which were constantly shared between doctors on mobile phone messaging platform, WhatsApp. “Adriana’s heart had to be covered with bovine pericardium and carefully closed with skin and soft tissue. The liver, which was abnormally large, could not be fully reduced in both babies,” said Dr K.S. Sivakumar admitted.

“In our over 30 years, Apollo Hospitals has always been a pioneer in healthcare delivery and has continued to excel with world-class clinical outcomes. We have once again demonstrated our prowess as a global destination for affordable yet world class healthcare.”

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