The conjoined Tanzanian twin boys, Ericana and Eluidi, now sleep in separate hospital beds in the critical care unit of Apollo Hospital’s Vanagaram facility.
They are able to do so after nine months, thanks to the efforts of 20 surgeons and an equal number of hospital staff. The hospital’s maiden effort in performing such a major surgery has been a success, doctors said.
The nine-month-old pygopagus twins (conjoined at the end of the spine), were born to a tribal couple from Kasumulu in Tanzania. The twins’ spines were fused at the base, and they shared a single anus and rectum. The twins were referred to a hospital in Dar es Salaam, which in turn sought help from the Tanzanian government health officials, who reached out to Apollo Hospitals, which runs a programme for paediatric cardiac treatment in that country.
The twins were brought to Chennai in June. At the hospital, a team of doctors led by consultant urologist Venkat Sripathi, conducted investigations. The spinal structures of the babies were scanned to understand the severity of the problem.
A series of procedures was then performed to place tissue expanders in the twins’ back, buttocks and thighs. These tissues would later be used to cover large defects left after separation.
On Monday, around 7 a.m. the babies were wheeled into the operation theatre. In a series of surgeries that lasted 18 hours, the babies were separated.
Dr. Sripathi said in an email interview that the actual process of separating the twins took 13 hours. The next five hours were devoted to reconstructing the genital area for both babies. Around midnight, the babies underwent another 90-minute procedure under the hands of plastic surgeons to create skin cover.
“As of now the babies are critical but stable. It is expected that they will take around five to seven days to be stable enough to be shifted to the ward,” Dr. Sripathi said.
“Once the babies feed well and void well and are active, they will be discharged. They will be brought back six months later for further surgery,” he said.
The babies will undergo procedures to close the colostomies — openings created for passing urine and motion, the surgeon added. Once the babies have undergone these procedures, they can have normal sexual lives when they grow up.
According to hospital officials, the Tanzanian government has offered to provide around Rs. 30 lakh, toward the cost of the surgery. The rest of the expenses will be waived by the hospital.