Risky surgery: Conjoined babies separated, one dies

Team of 32 doctors separate conjoined twins in 12-hour operation.


Express January 07, 2011

ISLAMABAD: A team of doctors in a nerve-wrecking 12-hour operation separated conjoined twins on Thursday at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) during which one of them died.

“It was a tough decision for us to decide which one to save, but one of them had to sacrifice,” said Dr Khaleequz Zaman, a neurosurgeon who was heading the team of surgeons.

“The main reason for the death of one of the sisters, Shazia, was the cavernous vein. They both had one, therefore we had to disconnect it from one of them,” he said.

Dr Zaman said it is too early to say anything about Nazia’s condition as she is in intensive care unit and on a ventilator.

The surgery started at 8am. When it was over, Shazia had died. The sisters were nine months and 24 days old.

The twin girls, Nazia and Shazia, were born to Ali Sher and Surrayya and brought to the hospital in March 2010 from Sahiwal.

They were born joined at the cranium, the part of the skull that encloses the brain. They had separate brains but shared the cavernous sinus, a collection of thin-walled veins meant for the drainage of blood in the brain. Nazia was saved because her cavernous sinus was in the back portion of the brain.

“Since their admission, they had been put under observation and numerous researches had been done in order to deal with the case,” said Dr Zaman.

A board of 32 doctors was constituted including pediatric surgeons, neuro-surgeons, plastic surgeons, anesthetists and radiologists, among others.

Dr Raja Amjad, joint executive director of  Children Hospital at Pims, said the parents had been reluctant to allow the procedure and wanted to take them back home.

“They belong to a very poor family. Their father is a drug addict and mother a labourer,” he said.

The parents did not stay with the conjoined twins during the surgery, with only their grandmother present.

Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM) had released an amount of Rs600,000 for the expenses of their surgery.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2011.

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