Con­joined ba­bies wait­ing for surgery

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QINGYUN in Bei­jing and QI XIN in Zhengzhou

Con­joined twins Zheng Han­jing and Zheng Han­wei are si­mul­ta­ne­ously lucky and very un­lucky.

The 3- month- old twins are un­lucky in that they are or­phaned and aban­doned. They are lucky, how­ever, be­cause their im­pend­ing surgery in Bei­jing of­fers them a chance to be sep­a­rated and live in­de­pen­dent lives.

The two girls, who are con­joined at the chest and ab­domen, were dis­cov­ered by po­lice on Aug 11, ap­par­ently aban­doned. They had been left by an ex­press­way in Pingding­shan, Henan prov­ince, and were taken in by Sun Zhengxin, pres­i­dent of the Pingding­shan Child Wel­fare Home.

Sun said the or­phan­age can not find their par­ents, so it gave the girls their names.

“We took them in at 4 pm on Aug 14. They were tiny when we found them, so we sus­pected that they were aban­doned soon af­ter they were born,” he said. “We took them for med­i­cal tests and found their liv­ers and bones were fused.”

The or­phan­age con­tacted An­gel’s Home, a non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bei­jing that pro­vides care for or­phans with se­vere dis­eases or dis­abil­i­ties, said Sun. Af­ter a few days, the girls were trans­ferred to the care of the or­ga­ni­za­tion in Bei­jing, while the pos­si­bil­ity of surgery was ex­plored.

The girls now weigh 9.5 kilo­grams to­gether and are in sta­ble con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to Deng Zhixin, founder of An­gel’s Home.

“Hos­pi­tals in Pingding­shan are not able to per­form the surgery to sep­a­rate the girls. They can only get this kind of surgery in large cities such as Bei­jing and Shang­hai,” she said.

Of the 150 chil­dren the or­ga­ni­za­tion has helped, th­ese are the first con­joined twins, Deng said.

“Doc­tors told us we should first wait un­til the twins weigh at least 15 kilo­grams to­gether,” she said. “The risks are high and few hos­pi­tals dare to do the op­er­a­tion.”

Bayi Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Bei­jing has of­fered to per­form the surgery on the ba­bies in about two months, ac­cord­ing to Huang Li­um­ing, di­rec­tor of the hos­pi­tal’s sur­gi­cal depart­ment.

“It is a se­vere case. The con­joined area is large, thus in­creas­ing the dif­fi­culty of the surgery,” he said. “We ex­pect the chil­dren to be fit for the surgery when they turn 6 months. Right now they don’t have enough skin to close up their tho­rax af­ter the surgery.”

He said wait­ing too long be­fore per­form­ing the surgery would ad­versely af­fect the in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment of each baby’s tho­rax, be­cause their ribs are all fused.

He ex­pected the op­er­a­tion to cost more than 50,000 yuan ($8,235) for each baby.

Huang put the chances of the both girls sur­viv­ing the pro­ce­dure at “80 to 90 per­cent”.

Doc­tors need to watch out for po­ten­tial res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems af­ter the surgery, given that their ribs and ster­nums are im­paired, and their res­pi­ra­tory mus­cles are un­der­de­vel­oped, he added. “How long they are kept in the hos­pi­tal de­pends on the re­cov­ery of their res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem and other fac­tors, such as how soon they will be able to eat.”

It re­mains to be seen whether their ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles and breast­bones de­velop nor­mally, Huang said.

Deng said her or­ga­ni­za­tion is col­lect­ing do­na­tions to pay for the surgery.

“The twins can hardly do any ex­er­cise,” she said. “Our care­givers turn them on the other side of their body once ev­ery hour, as we worry that ly­ing on one side for a long time may cause harm to their heads and shoul­ders.”

The two girls are avail­able for adop­tion, like the other or­phaned and ail­ing chil­dren un­der the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s care. How­ever, the girls may be re­turned to the or­phan­age in Pingding­shan if no fam­ily wants to adopt them, Deng said. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangqingyun@chi­nadaily.com.cn and qixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn.

FU DING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Con­joined twins Zheng Han­jing and Zheng Han­wei are be­ing cared for at An­gel’s Home in Bei­jing’s Chang­ping dis­trict.

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