Conjoined twins who were successfully separated in 2017 - Love and Prince - return to Wadia Hospital for crucial hip surgery
Formerly conjoined twins, Love (left) and Prince. Pic courtesy/ Sheetal and Sagar Zalte
Twins Love and Prince, who were born conjoined, are back in Parel's Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital — this time to get their hips reconstructed and to get incisional hernia repairs. When born on September 19, 2016, the boys were sharing a liver, bladder, intestine and a pelvic bone. They were separated in a challenging, 12-hour surgery on December 12, 2017.
Now three-and-a-half years old and housed in room no. 15 of the children's hospital, the brothers are due for a battery of tests and scans before a team of paediatric experts from urology, orthopaedics, anaesthetics, and general surgery decide on the next course of action and fix a date for the surgery in the coming week.
The kids spend most of their time in their room watching their favourite cartoons on TV as the hospital staff from the time of their surgery witnesses their growth.
"We are happy to see them. They play and run around. They are full of life and their smiles are infectious," said a nurse who did not wish to be named.
The boys also play with their conjoined friends, Riddhi and Siddhi, in room no. 1. The girls have been living at the hospital since birth after their parents disowned them.
The family currently lives in Surat, Gujarat where the boys' parents, Sagar, 28, and Sheetal Zalte, 27, work in the catering industry.
Love and Prince at Wadia hospital. Pic courtesy/ Sagar and Sheetal Zalte/ Wadia Hospital
"We are thankful to the doctors and Wadia hospital staff for providing us with care and treatment. We have no fixed income. My wife and I earn around R200 to R300 per day, and another R100 for travel," Sagar said. The couple takes turns going to work when the boys are home as they can never be left alone.
"We had no money for the separation surgery, nor do we have any now. Back then, the hospital arranged Rs 12 lakh. We are always indebted to the hospital's doctors and staff who stood by us," Sagar added.
Dr Rujuta Mehta, consulting Orthopedic Surgeon and Head of the Paediatric Orthopedic Department at Wadia hospital, said, "We will evaluate and decide a date for the complete pelvic reconstruction, wherein we may need to go for an osteotomy and place an external fixator distractor to reconstruct the pelvis ring."
Dr Mehta emphasised that this is not a routine surgery as Love and Prince do not have a complete pelvic ring supporting their abdomen wall in the front. "They are at risk of having a huge hernia, which will need surgical intervention," she said.
Post-surgery, the boys will have to stay in the hospital for over a month. "The kids are doing well and do not have any deformation in their growth, which is a positive sign. Both are mischievous and naughty, but have become the hospital staff's favourite," Dr Mehta said.
Dr Pradnya Bendra, Professor and Head of the Unit, Department of Paediatric Surgery, was on the team that performed the separation surgery. "Health-wise, Love and Prince are fine. They have skeletal defects, which could not be repaired during the first surgery. Once their pelvis rings are formed, we will repair the hernia," Dr Bendra said.
Dr Bendra said they are hoping for the boys to do well and lead a normal life after the surgery. "We are carrying out extensive investigations to rule out any underlying issues, which, if detected, will be treated first," she said.
The twins leading a normal life
The CEO of Wadia Hospitals, Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, said, "It has been a great pleasure seeing these kids grow so well! We are proud of our team who separated these kids and who are further taking great care of them to help them lead a normal life."
Another doctor, who did not wish to be named, said, "This was the third consecutive successful case of separating conjoined twins. It was quite challenging but the medical team and the nursing staff took excellent care of all conjoined infants. Ridhhi and Siddhi too, are doing well."
'Boys get fresh food'
Both Sagar and Sheetal get leftover food from events to eat for dinner and breakfast, but ensure the best nutrition for the boys.
"We ensure that the boys' meals are usually cooked at home and are fresh. We cannot afford to prepare four meals. So whatever is leftover at weddings or from other functions take cares of our daily meals," said Sagar. Both he and Sheetal studied till Std X.
"After Sheetal got pregnant, our gynaecologist did not inform us about the foetus's condition," Sagar said. "During a scan for anomalies in Ghatkopar, the staff charged us double. When I enquired about it, they were surprised, saying we were having twins," recalled Sagar.
The couple was assured by the gynaecologist that everything was fine and they moved to Surat.
"The gynaecologist there informed us about the foetuses being conjoined. We were shocked," Sagar said. The couple was advised to deliver the kids in Mumbai. While there were clinics willing to help them abort, they decided against it.
"We came to Wadia hospital for the delivery and since then it has become our second home," he said.
Sagar and Sheetal want to ensure that their kids study well. "I had enrolled them in a playgroup for a month and I realised they have a sharp memory. They still remember their rhymes. We will send them to an English-medium school. We want them to do well in life. Rather than pressuring them, we will mould ourselves to fulfil their interests and will support them in every possible way."
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also, download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates