STO­RIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

A wid­owed mother is still wait­ing for her ba­bies' life-chang­ing surgery

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APAIR of con­joined twins, who are joined at the head, have de­fied the odds and cel­e­brated their first birth­day, but their wid­owed mother is still wait­ing for a mir­a­cle to hap­pen so that her twins can be sur­gi­cally sep­a­rated.

SEP­A­RATE BRAINS

Zainab Bibi (36) gave birth to Safa and Marva at a hos­pi­tal in Pak­istan in Jan­uary 2017. The in­fants are fused at their heads, a phe­nom­e­non known as cran­iopa­gus twins, which oc­curs just once in ev­ery 2.5 mil­lion births.

De­spite be­ing joint to­gether by the tip of their skulls, a range of scans have since shown that they have sep­a­rate brains. How­ever, the un­cer­tainty over the surgery has left the poverty-stricken fam­ily in chaos.

TOUGH TIME

Zainab, who lost her hus­band 10 days be­fore giv­ing birth to the twins, says, “It’s get­ting tougher to take care of them day by day. They can­not move, whereas chil­dren their age can sit and crawl.” The mother of seven says the in­crease in their weight has made it dif­fi­cult for her to carry them and she doesn’t know what to do in fu­ture.

“Although there are no med­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties at present, I am afraid for their fu­ture. I’m afraid my daugh­ters will have to live a mis­er­able life if they are not sep­a­rated be­fore it’s too late,” she says.

ASK­ING FOR HELP

Since their birth, the fam­ily claims sev­eral peo­ple, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment, promised them help but to no vail. Their ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, Muham­mad Sadiq, says, “Since the birth of Safa and Marwa, a lot of peo­ple promised us that they will spon­sor their treat­ment. Some mem­bers of gov­ern­ment even told us that they will send them abroad if surgery for such a con­di­tion can­not be per­formed in Pak­istan.” A med­i­cal board was con­sti­tuted at Pak­istan In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sci­ences in Is­lam­abad to come up with a plan for an op­er­a­tion. “We stayed there for sev­eral months, but noth­ing hap­pened. We were told the surgery can­not be per­formed there,” says Muham­mad. How­ever, Zainab is hope­ful of their bright fu­ture if the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment comes for­ward to help. “I de­mand the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment t to come for­ward and help my poor daugh­ters. If treat­ment for such a con­di­tion is not pos­si­ble in Pak­istan, I re­quest the gov­ern­ment to take my daugh­ters to any for­eign coun­try where such cases have been suc­cess­fully op­er­ated.”

CRAN­IOPA­GUS TWINS

Around 40 per cent of these kind of twins are still­born. Of those who sur­vive, a third die within 24 hours of birth.

If the twins sur­vive to that point, there is an 80 per cent risk they will die be­fore the age of two if they are not sep­a­rated.

I AM AFRAID FOR THEIR FU­TURE

Safa and Marva Bibi are con­joined at the head and wait­ing to have surgery to sep­a­rate them

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