Separating conjoined twins can be a hard and difficult challenge and can even result in death. But, thanks to the efforts of close to 50 surgeons, two-year-old conjoined twins were successfully separated in Kenya.
In September 2014, twins Blessing and Favour, who were conjoined at the lower back, were referred to the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi soon after their delivery, the Daily Mail reported.
Certain cases of separating conjoined twins can be complex and inoperable. However, the complication can be less for separating twins that are joined in the way the girls were. They shared a spinal cord, rectum, anus, some muscles, subcutaneous tissues and skin.
A team of neuron surgeons, plastic surgeons and paediatrics agreed that it was possible to separate the two, but it had to be done when the they got a little older to be able to handle the operation. So, for an entire year nurses and nutritionists at the hospital took care of the babies to get them ready for the surgery.
Meanwhile in preparation for the massive operation, a plastic surgeon created a 3D model of the children’s pelvis to map the surgery. After careful planning and precision the team was ready to perform the surgery. Medical experts operated on the twins for 23 hours straight.
While the operation was a success, one of the babies developed impaired movement on one of her ankle joints. However, after occupational therapy she was able to finally walk. Their wounds took three months to heal.
On June 15, 2017, Blessing and Favour were finally ready to go home where they received a warm and joyous welcome fit for two princesses.
The achievement by doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital is a medical milestone for the country.
Their case, Dr Joseph Wanjeri one of the surgeons told The Conversation Africa, is an example of “how intense nursing care, nutritional support, advanced wound care techniques and close monitoring by paediatric specialists” has been imperative and critical to their recovery.
While the cause of conjoined twins is not yet known, it is thought genetic and environmental factors interacting could be a contributing reason. Globally, conjoined twins are found in one of every 50,000 live births.