Conjoined Tanzanian twins to be separated on December 16

A "rarest of rare" surgery to separate nine-month-old conjoined Tanzanian twins will be performed at a private hospital near here on December 16.

Chennai: A "rarest of rare" surgery to separate nine-month-old conjoined Tanzanian twins will be performed at a private hospital near here on December 16.

This is a complex surgery as spines of both the babies` are conjoined, said Dr Venkat Sripathi, Senior Consultant paediatric Urologist at the Apollo Hospitals said.

"There have been separation of conjoined twins in the past, as conjoined twins are common in Africa and South West Asia. But, this is the first time male twins conjoined by their posterior (pygopagus) are to be separated in India," Dr Sripathi said.

It was in June this year, 20-year-old Grace of Tanzania first came to the hospital with her five-month old twin boys, looking to separate them, after she could not be helped in her home country.

"This is a complex surgery, since both the babies` spines are conjoined. Their anus, penises are also conjoined. It is going to be an extremely complex surgery, which would involve over 25 lead doctors," Sripathi told a press meet.

The government of Tanzania has come forward to support the treatment, which is expected to be about Rs 30 to 40 lakh and the hospital would absorb the rest of the costs "if there is anything more," Director of Medical Services Dr N Sathyabhama said.

On success in the surgery, Sripathi said, "It is a complex surgery and the chances are 75 to 80 per cent."

While conjoined twins are seen one in 2,00,000 deliveries, 60 per cent of them are still born and another 35 per cent die within a few days or month of birth due to various causes, Sripathi said.

Pygopagus (conjoined in their buttocks) twins constitute 17 per cent of the conjoined twin population in the world and is common mostly in females, he said.

The surgery is expected to start around 7 am at the Apollo Hospitals at Vanagaram near here. Even if the surgery is a success, the twins have to come back to India for another corrective surgery six months later, the doctors said.

The twins have a four-year-old sibling.