Siamese twin sisters who were conjoined in the chest and abdomen, have been successfully separated by a 78-member team in Abuja, Nigeria.
The surgery which took 13 hours, and required doctors working from two operating theatres, successfully took place in November last year, however, the hospital only just released details about the surgery this year because the doctors wanted to ascertain that there were no complications after the surgery.
According to Emmanuel Ameh, the pediatric doctor, who led the team that performed the surgery at the national hospital, the girls are now ready to go home, six weeks after surgery.
Dr. Tayo Haastrup, the hospital’s spokesperson, told CNN that this would be the very first successful separation of Siamese twins in the government specialist hospital.
“We are just happy and proud that the team that worked on this surgery were all Nigerians. It was done in Nigeria and the parents didn’t have to go outside the country,” Haastrup said.
According to Haastrup, the surgery which would have cost the parents of the girls, thousands of dollars, was conducted for free, as they would not have been able to afford it.
According to Ameh, the twins were born in August, last year, but they couldn’t conduct the surgery until November because they had to deal with some complications.
Separating conjoined twins can be very complicated and risky, and in some cases even impossible because of shared organs or other conditions.
A 2017 paper in the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, states that conjoined twins are a very rare occurrence, with an incident rate of 1 in every 50,000 births; however, because 60% of them are usually stillborn, it becomes even rarer at 1 in every 200,000 births. The study also says that 70% of them are females.
The Martins twins were not only joined at the chest but also had a condition known as “omphalocele”; which is a birth defect that leaves a part of their intestine sticking out of their navel.
According to Ameh, the girls underwent surgery to repair the area, and they had to wait for the girls to recover from the procedure. They also had to deal with several other complications before the separation was done in November.
“We needed to determine if they could live independently when they are separated. We found out that they were sharing a diaphragm and one liver was serving both of them, but all other organs were separate,” Ameh told CNN.
“We also had to get some medical equipment that was not available,” he added.
Ameh also said that plastic surgeons on the team were concerned that a large area of their chest will be exposed after the surgery and that it could get infected, so they had to create artificial skin that was large enough to cover the area, and this took several weeks to achieve.
We received this news with so much joy and pride. It goes to show that indeed Africa has all kinds of capable hands, in various fields of endeavor, especially in the field of Medicine. All doctors such as these need are more funding from the government so that hospitals can have ‘state of the art” medical facilities, to tackle all manner of medical cases. This would reduce the expensive trips abroad which many African, especially Nigerians embark on for medical treatment.
Our prayer is that the twins will grow in good health of mind and body without complications. Our gratitude goes to the team of doctors who gave their all to save the lives of these little ones. We are a great people – all we need at the end is the selfless service of everyone in our society.