Six-hour operation a miracle times two
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