Con­joined twins on the mend fol­low­ing surgery

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CH­ER­NICK­er­

THE PAR­ENTS of for­merly con­joined twin girls Uwen­zile and Uy­ih­lelile Sih­lon­gonyane have ex­pressed hap­pi­ness and re­lief that their daugh­ters’ surgery has been suc­cess­fully com­pleted.

The twin girls, who un­der­went a suc­cess­ful six-hour sep­a­ra­tion op­er­a­tion on Satur­day af­ter be­ing born con­joined at the ab­domen, are in a sta­ble con­di­tion.

This is ac­cord­ing to Sis­ter Irene Bui­tendag, unit man­ager of the pae­di­atric in­ten­sive care unit at Net­care Uni­tas Hos­pi­tal where the ba­bies un­der­went the surgery.

“It was a big op­er­a­tion for two tiny ba­bies. Uwen­zile and Uy­ih­lelile are be­ing ven­ti­lated, un­der se­da­tion and at present are be­ing fed in­tra­venously,” she said.

The twins were born on Jan­uary 2, weigh­ing 4.21kg, to 19-year-old Bongek­ile Sime­lane and her hus­band Mbon­geni Sih­lon­gonyane, from Big Bend in Swazi­land.

They are also par­ents to two twoyear-old twin boys. Bongek­ile said that un­til she was seven months preg­nant, she didn’t know she was hav­ing a sec­ond set of twins.

“At first I was not happy to hear that I was ex­pect­ing twins for the sec­ond time,” she said. How­ever, once they were born, she fell in love with them straight­away. “Af­ter their birth I was at first not wor­ried as I thought the ba­bies were only at­tached at the um­bil­i­cal cord.

“I love my ba­bies so much,” she said, tear­ful and ner­vous as her ba­bies were taken into the­atre.

Pae­di­atric sur­geon Dr Mariza de Vil­liers said the twins were joined only by a bridge of skin, which made the op­er­a­tion sim­pler than if they shared vi­tal or­gans. “There are al­ways risks when sep­a­rat­ing con­joined twins, but we have been cau­tiously op­ti­mistic,” she said. “The skin bridge be­tween them meant there was suf­fi­cient skin to close the sur­gi­cal wound on each baby with­out the need for plas­tic surgery.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Paul Stevens, a pae­di­atric sur­geon on the case, one of the main chal­lenges the sur­gi­cal team ex­pected was re­lated to the anaes­the­sia. An all-fe­male team of four anaes­thetists par­tic­i­pated in the pro­ce­dure due to this chal­lenge.

The pae­di­atric sur­geons were as­sisted by Dr Fran­cisca van der Schyff and Dr Kag­iso Batka.



TO­GETHER: Con­joined twins Uwen­zile and Uy­ih­lelile Sih­lon­gonyane, born joined at the ab­domen on Jan­uary 2, with their mother, 19-year-old Bongek­ile Sime­lane, min­utes be­fore they un­der­went their sep­a­ra­tion surgery at Net­care Uni­tas Hos­pi­tal.

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