A team comprising of 78 medics in Nigeria has successfully separated one-year-old conjoined twins. The sisters – Goodness and Mercy Martins – are now well enough to return home.
The team consisting of pharmacists, perioperative, anaesthetics dermatologists, paediatricians, plastic surgeons, nurses among a host of other professional hands were directly involved in the surgery that lasted for almost 12 hours.
According to Lead surgeon Emmanuel Ameh, the operation to separate the Martins at the chest and abdomen took place in November and the two sisters are now in good condition.
The complicated operation amounting to about $55,000 lasted for about 12 hours and it involved 78 doctors who worked in two groups.
As reported by the BBC, the medics at National Hospital Abuja did not charge for their work because the twins’ parents, Michael Edeh, a painter and his unemployed wife could not afford the medical bills.
The couple had first brought their daughters in August 2018 just after their birth to the hospital in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja but the doctors couldn’t operate on them immediately as they were not well enough.
They received care at the government-owned hospital for 15 months until they were considered strong enough for the operation.
Although the hospital has separated about 11 conjoined twins over the last 20 years, Goodness and Mercy’s case stood out as it was the first time an operation had involved the lower chest wall, liver, and diaphragm, according to the hospital’s medical director, Jaff Momoh.
In the previous cases, all the twins had been joined at the abdomen.
Reacting to the successful completion of the operation, the girls’ father said he was so happy to see his daughters alive and well enough to return home.
According to sources, on the 13th of August 2018 when the babies were born at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa state, through a cesarean session, they were attached at the chest and abdomen – with a large blood vessel connecting their hearts through their chest walls.
The FMC Keffi referred them to the National Hospital Abuja the following day – August 14. “That was when the long journey that brought us to this day began,” Emmanuel Ameh, the head of the surgical team, said.
Though many conjoined twins are not alive when born (stillborn) or die shortly after birth, advances in surgery and technology have improved survival rates. Some surviving conjoined twins can be surgically separated. The success of surgery depends on where the twins are joined and how many and which organs are shared, as well as the experience and skill of the surgical team.