Monday, December 16, 2013

A Proud Moment for Indian Health Science

The birth of a baby brings joy to the parents and whole family and this joy can be doubled by the arrival of twins. On rare occasions this very joy can turn to be a nightmare for the doctors and parents when they face great challenge to keep the baby or babies alive. This happens more in case of Siamese twins named after the famous brothers, Chang Bunker and Eng Bunker of Siam, who travelled with P.T. Barnum’s circus. Medically known as conjoined twins; these babies are attached to each other and at times share a single vital organ. Fortunately, this phenomenon does not occur too often. The birth of conjoined twins is seen as rare as once in every 200,000 live births, moreover their survival rate is also very low. Females are known to have higher survival rate compared to their male counterparts. Nearly 40-60 of conjoined twins are stillborn, and even among those who are born alive only 35% make it past day one. Even the 5-25 percent of twins who survive face many challenges throughout their lives. Fortunately, today medical science has progressed enough to separate the conjoined twins successfully to give them a chance to lead normal lives. I know the benefits of modern health care as  I Owe 17 Years of My Life to Healthcare…
One of the rare occurrences among conjoined twins is the birth of pygopagus twins, i.e. babies who are joined at the buttocks. So far medical science has recorded just 30 live births of pygopagus twins, of which 26 were females and just 4 males.

Ericana and Eludi are one of those rare male conjoined twins whose mother has approached Apollo Hospitals seeking the rare surgery which can give her boys normal life. You can imagine the shock and surprise of doctors and the mother from a small village of Tanzania when they found the male twins she gave birth through a tough ‘C’ section were joined at their backs. The ordeal of the mother to save her boys began then. First she was sent to the Mohimbili Hospital in the capital Dar es Salaam by ambulance. It took all of the three days to make this journey with the newborns and even at Mohimbili the fate of the twins could not be decided. The doctors were waiting for the advice of health officials regarding further action. This is when Apollo Hospitals Chennai stepped in.
Apollo Hospitals Chennai is closely associated with the Tanzanian government by the Save a Childs Heart Initiative (SACHI). Due to their past history of volunteering to save the life of children, the conjoined twins were shifted to Apollo Children’s Hospital in Chennai after 4 ½ months. The arrival of the babies was followed by many tests and scans which revealed that the babies were joined at the tail end of the spines and shared a single anus and rectum. They were also found to have a single phallus and urinary passage. Today, after 5 months, the 9 month old babies weigh 16 kg. 
In a great medical breakthrough surgery which will last for nearly 14-16 hours, which is scheduled on 16th of December, a team of 20 doctors will Surgical Separation of Pygopagus twins at Apollo Children’s Hospital, Vanagaram. The team of doctors from different specialties of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery and pediatric urology will attempt the separation. The services of Dr. Edward Kiely – Pediatric Surgeon and Dr. Richard Howard – Anesthesiologist both from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London have been sought to guide and help in the safe separation. The surgery is going to be the first of its kind in India. The greatest challenge faced by the doctors is to safely separate the fused phallus to give both the babies healthy functional penis. The delicate procedure will demand utter precision and accuracy from the steady of the experts.
In preparation of the surgery doctors at the Apollo Hospitals have placed flaps in the back, buttocks and thighs of the twins so that skin flaps can be rotated to cover the large defects, which will be left after separation. The nursing staff have grown to love the babies and adopted them as their own. In the past 5 months they have showered unconditional love on the babies who they have nicknamed ‘Ammukutty’ and ‘Chellakutty’. Responding to the love, the babies have learned to say Thatha’ and ‘Athai’, whereas their mother has picked up a bit of Tamil as well.

Let us spare some time to send good wishes and prayers for safe separation of these babies, who deserve every chance to live a normal healthy life. Do not forget to send them your prayers today, 16th of December when the surgery is going on.
Update : After a gruelling 12 hours, Apollo Hospitals surgeons separated nine-month-old Tanzanian conjoined twins Ericana and Eludi on Monday at Apollo Speciality Hospital, Vanagaram, According to the surgeons the babies are showing good signs. 


  1. God bless them .. I am praying for the surgery to a grand success ... giving hope to life ... Amen

  2. God bless them .. I am praying for the surgery to a grand success ... giving hope to life ... Amen

  3. I can't imagine what the mother is going through right now. I'll remember them in my prayers. I hope the surgery turns out successful for both of them.

  4. Our prayers for a safe surgery and early recovery are there. The mother must be oscillating between hope and fate. must be so tough for her.

  5. I hope the twins are recovering well. The mother must be really anxious about their well being. Our prayers and wishes are for them.

  6. This is indeed a proud moment for Indian medical science!

    One wonders why politicians feel the need to get treated abroad.


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