Hyderabad: A new ray of hope emerged on Saturday for 11-year-old twins born with the tops of their heads joined together as a team of leading surgeons from the UK came forward to perform surgery and sounded optimistic about separating them successfully.
The "Craniopagus Conjoint" twins - Veena and Vani - appeared hale and hearty as they were presented before the media after two British surgeons met them and examined their medical history and described the case as "incredibly rare".
David Dunaway, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and head of Carniofacial unit at London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), said there seems to be a good possibility to separate the twins.
Noor-ul-Owase Jeelani, a consultant paediatric neurosurgeon, who has worked at GOSH part time since 2000 and full time since 2009, added, "...We feel that there is a good chance of getting good result."
"If you ask me to guess (on success of the surgery), it's greater than 80 per cent," Jeelani said, adding, they have successfully performed two such surgeries in the past.
He proposed to perform surgery on Veena and Vani in London as the hospital (GOSH) has experience in handling such cases. "Should it go ahead, it should be in London."
The twins from Telangana's Warangal district were born on October 15, 2003 and they were initially taken to Guntur General Hospital from where they were shifted to Government- run Niloufer Hospital here, where they had been confined to a room since April 2006. Niloufer Hospital invited the surgeons to evaluate the feasibility of undertaking the surgery.
Jeelani said the safest way to do the surgery is to break the complex procedure into small, safe steps. The proposal is to perform it in five stages over a period of 6 to 12 months. "We feel it will be (over in a period of) about nine months."
Dunaway, who was the lead surgeon in the successful separation of Sudanese Craniopagus twins in 2011, said further investigations were needed in London including those relating to blood vessels and three dimensional modelling.
Terming Veena's and Vani's case as "incredibly rare", he said only one such sets (twins) are found in the world in every one or two years. "So, that's not even one in a year. These are very, very rare".
Jeelani said the girls came across as understandable kids and expressed readiness to undergo the surgery as they wanted to lead a normal life.
The parents of the twins, N Murali and Nagalakshmi, also gave consent for the medical procedure to separate them.
"We feel it will succeed. There is an element of risk in all operations. They (the twins) are going through hell," Murali said.
Back in 2008, a neurosurgeon from a leading Mumbai hospital came forward, but failure to raise funds for the expensive surgery saw to it that things did not move then.
And in 2009, the parents of the twins declined consent for operation to a consultant neurosurgeon from a Singapore hospital who did not sound very positive about the outcome.
The parents told the authorities in 2012 that they were poor and health needs of their children should be taken care of by the state government. They requested the government to bear the cost of treatment if there is a feasibility of surgery with advancement in the field of medicine.
K Ramesh Reddy, Professor and Head of Department of Paediatric Surgery, Niloufer Hospital, said once Dunaway completes necessary investigations, Telangana Government would be approached for funding the surgery.