Six-hour op­er­a­tion a mir­a­cle times two

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - GRANT MCARTHUR

WHEN sur­geons fi­nally got the an­swer to the ques­tion they have long asked – and feared – a sense of re­lief swept over Royal Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal The­atre 6 in Mel­bourne.

Since first set­ting eyes on a set of rudi­men­tary scans from Bhutan, Aus­tralian spe­cial­ists have won­dered ex­actly what was go­ing on in­side Nima and Dawa Pelden’s con­joined bod­ies.

Af­ter a year-long ef­fort to save the 15-month-old sis­ters, the huge team got the per­fect an­swer.

“Our great­est chal­lenge, we al­ways knew, was what were we go­ing to find when we first went into the ab­domen,” head of pae­di­atric surgery, Dr Joe Crameri said.

“Once we re­alised that we had the abil­ity to di­vide the liver with­out com­pro­mis­ing the girls, and ul­ti­mately that we did not have to do any­thing fancy with the bowel, that was cer­tainly a sense of re­lief for us.

“All the hard work and ef­forts over the past weeks re­ally paid div­i­dends to­day.

“We saw two young girls who were very ready for this surgery, who were able to cope with the surgery, and are re­cov­er­ing and do­ing very well. I see it as a sense of re­lief. We al­ways felt con­fi­dent we could achieve this.” From the mo­ment yes­ter­day’s process be­gan, Nima and Dawa were act­ing in­de­pen­dently, with one suc­cumb­ing to anaes­thetic quickly, and the other tak­ing more than two hours. When surgery be­gan, the team, which swelled to 25 dur­ing sec­tions of the six-hour op- er­a­tion, were over­joyed to find there was no sig­nif­i­cant bowel at­tach­ment re­quir­ing ex­ten­sive surgery, but rather just over­lap­ping or tan­gle or­gans.

Just be­fore 12.45pm, the girls were of­fi­cially sep­a­rated and sta­ble.

The cru­cial ef­fort to re­con­struct the girls’ now in­di­vid­ual bod­ies saw the the­atre and surgery team split in two.

Re­con­struc­tion of the ab­domen was thought to be the day’s big­gest chal­lenge, but both girls had enough mus­cle and skin to close over the gap in their chest.

They con­tinue to re­cover well and are ex­pected to be in hos­pi­tal for about a week.

SIN­GU­LAR SUC­CESS: Nima and Dawa Pelden are sep­a­rated; mum Bh­muchu Zangmo (inset) pre-surgery; and Dr Joe Crameri (be­low) with the twins’ doc­tor from Bhutan, Dr Karma Sherub. Pic­tures: Alex Cop­pell

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