Monday, November 05, 2007

Divine intervention for baby Lakshmi

Reckoned as the Goddess in her dusty remote village in Ahraria district, Bihar, two-year old Lakshmi led a miserable life because she was joined by birth to her half formed twin.

Her eight limbs convinced the villagers that she was the Goddess incarnate and thronged her house with flowers, offerings and prayers. But Lakshmi’s poor and illiterate parents knew that their daughter needed immediate medical attention. They ran from pillar to post but could not get appropriate help. No doctor was willing to undertake the complicated surgery, which her poor parents could ill-afford.

Their plight worsened with each passing day because Lakshmi had to bear the burden of the extra limbs and a gaping wound on the torso of her half-formed headless congenital twin.

To their good luck, their story reached Dr Sharan Patil, orthopedic surgeon and chairman of Sparsh Hospital, Bangalore, who rushed to the village and saw Lakshmi. He managed to convince them that the child could be operated upon which may give her a fresh lease of life.

Free of cost

He promised to operate Lakshmi, and free her from her parasitic twin, free of cost. The family arrived in Bangalore last week and the operation is scheduled for November 6.

“They sought medical help but no doctor was ready to operate on her, and since her parents come from an extremely impoverished background, they haven’t had the resources to get their daughter seen by doctors from abroad, where there are a small number of surgeons who have the expertise to treat Lakshmi,” said the surgeon.

The operation is expected to take 40 hrs non-stop. A team of 30 medical experts, including specialist surgeons from the fields of paediatrics, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, plastic & microvascular, anaesthesia and intensivist, will be conducting this extraordinary surgery.

Before the surgery, Lakshmi had to be prepared as she is acutely malnourished and anaemic with her haemoglobin count as low as 5.“She has been put on a nutritional diet and now is in a position to undergo the procedure,” said Dr Sharan.This is perhaps the first time such a surgery will be undertaken in the country, he added.

Conjoined twins

Lakshmi is actually a pair of conjoined twins, but only one of the twins has a head. Two pairs of arms and legs have formed at either end of the two adjoining torsos, creating a child with eight limbs which she can move and control.