Conjoined twins on the mend following surgery
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.