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Complex surgery gives a twin a chance to live a long and normal life
FIVE SURGEONS OPERATED ON THE LITTLE GIRL FOR SIX HOURS
ABABY girl born with four legs and two spines has successfully had her parasitic twin removed. Dominique, who is 10 months old, was taken to the US for treatment after being born with her twin’s waist, legs and feet, protruding from her back. The child from Ivory Coast, West Africa, underwent a complex separation surgery recently.
JOINED AT THE SPINE
Due to Dominique’s heart working for two bodies, Dominique would have a shortened lifespan and would suffer from balance issues and social isolation, without separation surgery. Children’s Medical Mission West organised for the child to be brought to paediatric neurosurgeon, Dr John Ruge, at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Illinois, United States.
“The fact that the twins were joined at the spine makes Dominique’s condition unique and rare,” says Dr John. “It also made the separation surgery complex. But it was crucial to give this beautiful baby girl the chance to live a long and normal life.”
Five surgeons operated on the little girl for six hours, as part of a bigger team of 50 medics that cared for the baby. Paediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr Frank Vicari, explains,“There were many risks involved with detaching the parasitic twin – the biggest of which included paralysis, spinal destabilisation and closure of a large defect. There also was a chance of affecting shared functions, such as the urinary function. Before going into the operating suite, our interdisciplinary team identified where the dangers would be and how we would minimise them. That way we were prepared for anything that could occur. I’m pleased to say the surgery was a success and Dominique has an excellent chance of healing.”
The other three surgeons were paediatric neurosurgeon Dr Robert Givens Kellogg, paediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Jordan Steinberg, and paediatric and adult orthopaedic spine surgeon Dr Eric Belin.
THE JOURNEY OF RECOVERY
Dominque is expected to stay with foster parents, Nancy and Tim Swabb in Chicago, United States, for two months before being reunited with her family in Ivory Coast. The couple heard about the little girl’s plight through Facebook.
Children’s Medical Mission West, a charity organisation based in Ohio, has helped 500 children from across the world receive medical treatment in the United States since launching 16 years ago.
Although it was a lengthy and complicated surgery, the surgeons who operated on Dominique were happy with the outcome and hope that she will heal soon