Indian doctors separate African conjoined twins

It is a new lease of life for conjoined twins from Tanzania who had shared a common heart lining, diaphragm and a liver. Doctors, including two teams of plastic surgeons at leading city-based Apollo Children’s Hospital, who undertook a marathon, 11-hour operation managed to separate the twins.

The twins’ condition was described as thoraco omphalopagus – the fusing of two bodies at the lower chest and abdomen. The eight-and-a-half months old Abriana and Adriana were conjoined and had been sharing a common heart lining and diaphragm. They also had a connected liver that had to be separated with minimal blood loss.

About 50 professionals that also included paediatrician and urologists had planned meticulously for the surgery which was performed last month. According to chairman-founder, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd, Dr Prathap C. Reddy, said after being admitted in August this 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. He said Indian healthcare offered medical treatment for such critical issues at affordable costs than many other countries. Apollo Hospitals executive vice-chairperson, Dr Preetha Reddy, lauded the doctors for their unique feat.

“It took seven hours for the surgery and another four hours for closure by plastic surgeons,” Dr Venkata Sripathi, who supervised the surgery, told reporters hereon Tuesday. The surgery involved separation of the pericardium (heart lining), diaphragm and the connected livers. 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, plastic and reconstructive surgeon under whom the twins were admitted.

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