A team of surgeons has successfully separated conjoined twins at National Hospital in Abuja, the Federal Ministry of Health has announced at a Press briefing.
While paying tribute to the team, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, announced that the operation followed careful and detailed planning by a team of “indigenous paediatric, plastic & cardiothoracic surgeons.”
The minister said: “This is a demonstration of excellent team work, which also shows that with confidence in the health sector, we can do great things in Nigeria.
“One of the reasons why some Nigerians travel abroad for treatment is because they lack confidence in the health sector. They believe that we do not have specialists and the required medical equipment to handle to handle sensitive cases, but this case has shown that we have the expertise. No foreign aid was involved in the surgery.
“The ability of these experts to work together means that we can stand up to many international hospitals, as far as advanced surgery is concerned. This is a complex one involving conjoined twins with one liver.”
The twin, seen from their photo appeared to be joined at the abdomen. The time of the surgery was not disclosed but the briefing organized as the National Hospital discharges the separated twins.
Professor Emmanuel Ameh said that the twins were monitored for 15 months before the surgery and that it involved a team of 78 medical staff.
“We received the twins on August 14, 2018 and quickly constituted an inter-disciplinary team, including pediatric surgeons, cardiac surgeons, plastic surgeons, nurses, imaging experts, dermatologists and other experts from various medical disciplines, as well as support staff.”
The surgery lasted for 12 and a half hours although the team was prepared to go up to 48 hours if need be. The duo spent one week in Intensive Care Unit before being transferred to the ward.
The need to monitor for 15 months was necessitated because the twins needed to be allowed to grow well to withstand the stress of surgery, Professor Ameh noted.
“One of the major challenges was that the twins came with their intestines bulging out of the lower part of the tummy, which we quickly resolved.
“We also needed to determine if they could survive separately after separation. We found out that they had two separate hearts that were normal, but with a common cover. They also shared the lower half of the chest and there was only one liver serving the two of them. Other organs were separate and normal.”Professor Ameh, team lead, speaking on the challenges before the procedure.
Conjoined twins are rare in Nigeria with less than 500 cases per annum.
“Conjoined twins are two babies who are born physically connected to each other.
“Conjoined twins develop when an early embryo only partially separates to form two individuals. Although two fetuses will develop from this embryo, they will remain physically connected — most often at the chest, abdomen or pelvis. Conjoined twins may also share one or more internal organs.Source: Mayo Clinic
While this is a remarkable success, this is not the first time conjoined twins would be separated in Nigeria. Conjoined twins had been separated in Nigeria and reported in the Nigerian Journal of Paediatrics.