Doctors of the B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children here surgically removed a foetus from the abdomen of a one-year-old child, Asharafi, on Wednesday.

The condition, “foetus in foetu,” is extremely rare, found in only one out of about 15 lakh births. It occurs when two embryos are simultaneously fertilised, but instead of being separately implanted in the uterus one of them attaches itself to the other, explained principal Mrinalkanti Chatterjee.

As the normal foetus developed, the other one lodged itself in the abdominal cavity like a tumour and obtained its nutrition through Asharafi's vascular supply and continued to develop in a partially formed way even after she was born.

Abdominal pain

The child, who was born in Malda district, suffered acute abdominal pain and swelling. As doctors there could not treat her, she was referred to the B. C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children. After she was admitted on May 6, CT scans and X-rays revealed the cause of her discomfort.

“When the team of six doctors, led by Dr. Koushik Saha finally removed the foetus, it weighed nearly 1.25 kg. It had developed a rudimentary skull, a few ribs, intestines and a kidney,” says Dr. Chatterjee.

Asharafi is recovering in the intensive care unit. Although the child bearing the foetus in the abdomen has taken its toll on her development, doctors hope that from now on she will lead a normal life.

Doctors of this hospital had not dealt with such a case in recent history, but a few years ago a similar incident was reported in the city's Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital, according to Dr. Chatterjee.