CHENNAI: For the most part of their lives, roughly eight-and-a-half months, Tanzanian twins Adriana and Abriana got to see little other than each other’s faces. Born conjoined, the twins were fused at the chest and also shared a liver — a condition that required extensive surgery to give them a shot at living life as individuals. Seven different surgical teams put their head together in a bid to ensure these two little kids didn’t bump theirs for the rest of their natural lives.
And much like those Pygopagus twins who created history a year ago, when they were separated at Apollo Hospitals, this pair were also brought down to the country a few months ago.
“I had hope. Lots of it. My babies would...should be normal. So, we left everything and came here,” says Carolyn Zakaria, who delivered the infants earlier this year. Her husband Jimmy Mtemi had left his job behind and flown here from Dar-es-Salaam to see their daughters separated, and that’s exactly what happened on November 17, after a marathon 11-hour surgery.
Doctors at Apollo were up to it. Gathering specialists from across the spectrum, they subjected the genial pair of twins to a battery of tests and scans to see what could be done. “Initially, we were informed that the children were fused at the heart and the liver, but our scans cleared that up,” explains Dr K S Sivakumar, plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Though the heart chambers were separate, the twins shared the pericardium and so, needed careful separation.
Considered one of the commoner types of conjoined twins, the surgery was not easy, but it did end up being textbook.
“Their livers were fused pretty strongly and so it took a while for us to figure out how to do the split. But once we were in there doing the surgery, there were absolutely no anxious moments and it went off without a hitch,” says Dr Mahesh Gopasetty, who worked with the liver team. Smiling ever so sweetly with little black bindis on their foreheads, the twins will be heading home this week and will spend Christmas at their home, separate in flesh, but together in the spirit.