Four-day-old conjoined twins – joined from the waist down – were rescued from Olawa village in Panvel on Tuesday just as their parents were about to offer them for sacrifice to a practitioner of black magic.
The rescued girls underwent their first stage of surgery at Wadia hospital in Parel yesterday and doctors at the hospital say that it will take a few more months before the twins are ready for the second phase of surgery.
The two infants, born as ischiopagus twins, are stable but critical and recuperating in the ICU of the hospital. They were shifted to Wadia hospital by Pratham, an NGO in Panvel on Wednesday after being rescued from Olawa.
The mother, Shalu, gave birth naturally at home and was surprisingly stable after the delivery. The twins were rescued from being given up to a black magic practitioner in Olawa village, Panvel, by Reshma Khatri (23), a neighbour. She intervened when the father was going to surrender the twins to the villagers.
A team of 15 doctors completed the first stage of the surgery, which lasted for a four hours last morning. “We created two stomas, or openings in the twins’ bodies to help them pass stool, by diverting the original passage. As of now, there is only one orifice for them to pass urine,” said Dr Pragnya Bendre, chief surgeon and professor of paediatric surgery in Wadia hospital.
“The next few days are critical for the twins as they are at a high risk of contracting infection. One of the girls is already septic; however, they are displaying positive signs of survival,” she added.
Doctors at the hospital determined the sex of the twins after they observed that ovaries and a uterus were present in both. However, the conjoined twins have only one bladder. The second stage of their treatment will involve major reconstructive surgery for the bladder, rectum and genitalia, after the twins are separated.
As the twins’ combined weight is only 2.6 kg, they will be operated on once each twin weighs at least 5 kg and is fit enough to bear the strain of such a complex procedure, said Dr Bendre.
Dr Yeshwant Amdekar, medical director of the hospital, said, “We are providing this treatment to the conjoined twins free of cost and have also been trying to motivate the parents by telling them that their twins will be able to lead a normal life after the surgeries are performed.”
Financial problems have been plaguing the parents. The father, a dumper driver, cannot go to work regularly as he is at the hospital.
“We have another two-year-old daughter who is staying with our relatives in the village now. We have to stay in the hospital to take care of the twins but we are concerned about our other child’s safety. We also cannot understand how we are going to sustain ourselves financially in Mumbai, when I can’t go to work regularly,” said Arun Pawar (27), the father.
“As per hospital rules, a child below the age of 15 is not allowed inside the hospital building, so we were forced to leave our first child in the village,” he added.