Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bihar toddler stable after successful conjoined twin operation

Bangalore, Nov 7 - Two-year-old Lakshmi Tatma is stable and sound after a marathon 27-hour operation to separate her parasitic conjoined twin at a super-speciality hospital here went off successfully, her doctors said Wednesday.

It was the first surgery of its kind in the subcontinent. Although the toddler from a Bihar village was on a ventilator, her vital parameters were functioning normally, Sparsh Hospital chairperson and chief orthopaedic surgeon Sharan Patil told reporters.

'Lakshmi has been kept under observation for the next 72 hours. In spite of being a complicated operation, a team of 30 medics was able to complete the task in 27 hours instead of 40 hours scheduled originally.

'The next 48 hours is crucial, as we have to monitor the functioning of her vital organs after separating the parasitic twin part of her body and reconstructing the pelvic bone,' a beaming Patil said.

Lakshmi's anxious parents - Shambhu and Poonam -- were allowed to see her in the intensive care unit (ICU) post-noon after she was wheeled out of the operation theatre.

'It's a Diwali gift to her parents and the entire country, as this is the first of its kind surgery ever conducted in the sub-continent. It was a difficult surgery to perform, as Lakshmi was very young and weak. Yet, she showed great courage during the entire operation. We are thankful to god and all the people, including celebrities, who sent their best wishes.

'Although Lakshmi is safe and the main operation is over, we are yet to cross all stages. We are keeping a close watch on her condition for the next 72 hours,' Patil pointed out.

Detailing the difficult parts of the surgery, Patil said separating the spinal column and relocating the kidney of her conjoined twin to her body were the most delicate job - a core team of five specialists from paediatrics, neuro-surgery, orthopaedics and plastic surgery handled it.

'Conjoined twins are rare, occurring in about one in every 200,000 births. They originate from a single fertilised egg, so they are always identical and of the same sex. The survival rate of conjoined twins is about 25 percent,' Patil noted.

The procedure involved separating the fused spines and removing the extra four limbs (two hands and two legs) from Lakshmi's main structure.

Lakshmi was admitted to the hospital Oct 3 after her poor parents, living in Araria village in north Bihar and working as labourers, could not get her treated in Patna or New Delhi where doctors found it to be a risky and prohibitive surgery.