STO­RIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Com­plex surgery gives a twin a chance to live a long and nor­mal life

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Sarah Fran­cis

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.”

MANY RISKS

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

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