Nige­rian con­joined twins: from so­cial me­dia to surgery

No jobs, no home, then con­joined twins. But thanks to so­cial me­dia their ba­bies could be sep­a­rated and things are look­ing up


THE cou­ple was over­joyed to dis­cover they were ex­pect­ing twins – two ba­bies would ease the heartache of los­ing their first child, who was still­born. But their happi­ness turned to shock when the twins were deli­vered con­joined at the ab­domen. “The birth was a roller­coaster ex­pe­ri­ence for us,” new dad Fer­di­nand Buzugbe (36) of Abuja, Nige­ria said. “When I saw them I wept. I was con­fused. I cried, ‘Why me?’”

For Fer­di­nand it was all too much to bear. In the space of a year he had lost his first­born and his job as a real-es­tate val­uer, and he had just learnt he and his wife, Courage (31), were to be evicted from their home.

“I was al­most los­ing my mind. I thought, ‘No job, no house, mount­ing bills and now con­joined twins – how would they sur­vive?’”

But Courage was more pos­i­tive. Her ba­bies were alive and where there was life, there was hope.

“When they cried I was con­soled. I never heard my other baby cry,” she said.

Doc­tors as­sured the cou­ple the baby boys, named Eli­jah and Elisha, stood a good chance of be­ing suc­cess­fully sep­a­rated when they were five or six months old. But Fer­di­nand and Courage were wor­ried: how would they ever be able to af­ford the R30 000 they needed for the op­er­a­tion?

THEY needn’t have wor­ried. Their doc­tor posted a pic­ture of the twins on In­sta­gram along with a plea for help and within min­utes enough money had been raised for their surgery – most of it do­nated by Nige­rian politi­cian Yakubu Dog­ara.

The op­er­a­tion took place in late Oc­to­ber. Dr Olori Samp­son, the lead sur­geon, ex­plained that one of the big­gest hur­dles was en­sur­ing the twins were in good health in the lead-up to the surgery.

They needed to be as strong as pos­si­ble to stand the best chance of a full re­cov­ery and once they were given the all clear a sur­gi­cal team as­sem­bled at the Univer­sity of Abuja Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal.

It was the first time an op­er­a­tion of this kind was to be per­formed at the hos­pi­tal and re­quired six weeks of care­ful plan­ning.

“Af­ter the ini­tial clin­i­cal as­sess­ments there were sev­eral CT scan in­ves­ti­ga­tions to de­ter­mine which or­gans were joined.

“So we knew their livers were joined. We had five ses­sions with all the teams com­ing to­gether to plan and de­ter­ mine the best ap­proach,” Dr Samp­son said.

The hos­pi­tal’s man­age­ment pro­vided the sur­gi­cal team with “mod­ern gad­gets to make sure the surgery went well,” the doc­tor added. “And it did go well as we con­tained the surgery to about five hours.”

The twins, now six months old, are do­ing fine, he said. “For now there are no ma­jor con­cerns.”

They might need more fol­low-up surg­eries and will be closely mon­i­tored by Dr Samp­son and his team. They’ll stay in hos­pi­tal for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The hos­pi­tal wrote off the cost of the surgery be­cause it was the first of its kind, spokesper­son Frank Omag­bon said.

The money raised for the surgery was do­nated to Courage and Fer­di­nand, who are still job­less. But it has helped them to se­cure a house, al­beit tem­po­rar­ily, and start dream­ing of the day they’ll fi­nally bring their ba­bies home and start life to­gether as a fam­ily.

Con­joined twins Eli­jah and Elisha Buzugbe (RIGHT) were sep­a­rated af­ter a five-hour op­er­a­tion at the Univer­sity of Abuja Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal (LEFT).

ABOVE: Politi­cian Yakubu Dog­ara do­nated most of the money needed for the op. RIGHT: The twins’ par­ents, Courage and Fer­di­nand Buzugbe.

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