Two-year-old Lakshmi Tatma, an Indian girl born with a parasitic twin which caused her to have four arms and four legs, has been released from the hospital in apparently excellent condition. While she had never been able to stand or even to roll over prior to the surgery, she is now doing both. It took 30 surgeons working shifts in a 27-hour operation to remove the parasitic twin.
Parasitic twins occur once in every 500,000 births, and their survival rate is about 2%. Doctors said that Lakshmi would not live into her gurls without the surgery.
Lakshmi is one half of a conjoined twin, but without a living sibling. Her condition is called “ischiopagus”. It is caused by a “parasitic twin” which stopped developing in the womb, but is absorbed by the surviving twin. Lakshmi absorbed her twin’s arms and legs, its kidneys, its stomach and chest cavities, as well as a series of nerves.
Born desperately poor, Lakshmi’s parents could not afford the operation necessary to save her life, but a hospital foundation in Bangalore, India, performed it for free, and doctors and nurses donated their time and expertise. It took over a month to plan the complex surgery.
The surgeons removed the extra body parts, and separated Lakshmi’s spine from her twin’s spine, as the two spines had fused. Surgeons used tissue from the twin to rebuild her pelvis. In order to save Lakshmi’s kidney, doctors removed the kidney from the “parasitic abdomen” and move it into Lakshmi’s own abdomen.
However, the surgery was met with a great deal of controversy, since many in India considered Lakshmi to be the manifestation of her namesake, the multi-limbed Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. When Lakshmi was young her parents allowed others to see her, but stopped after they were approached by men who wanted to place her in a circus, out of fear that she would be kidnapped.
Now, a month after surgery, it is believed that little Lakshmi will be able to walk and have a normal life, though she may need additional surgeries.
The doctors "worked relentlessly through the night to make the operation successful," Patil said, adding there had been "no setback at any stage of the surgery."
Half a Twin
Lakshmi is essentially one half of a conjoined twin without a living sibling. Her condition is called ischiopagus. In the womb, a "parasitic twin" stopped developing, but Lakshmi absorbed its arms and legs, its kidneys, its stomach and chest cavities as well as a series of nerves.
The surgery removed the extra body parts and unfused Lakshmi's spine from her twin's. To rebuild her pelvis, surgeons used tissue from the twin. And to save her kidney, doctors said, they had to remove it from the "parasitic abdomen" and move it into Lakshmi's own abdomen. She may still need more surgeries.
Conjoined twins occur in about one in every 200,000 births, and their survival rate can be as low as 5 percent.
In the desperately poor corner of Bihar, India, she was a miracle.
Tiny Lakshmi Tatma was born two years ago with four arms and four legs. The local population considered her the manifestation of a goddess. Her parents named her after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth.
A local circus even tried to buy her, but her parents chose health over fame and asked a team of doctors to remove her extra limbs. The surgery, conducted in Bangalore, ended successfully this afternoon.
"The child has withstood the procedure in an excellent manner," Dr. Sharan Patil, the team leader who planned the surgery for more than a month, told reporters outside the Sparsh Hospital. "This girl can now lead as good a life as anyone else."
It took more than 30 surgeons 27 hours to not only remove two of Lakshmi's arms and two of her legs but also to rebuild much of her body and save her organs. They say the chances of death were as high as 25 percent.
The cost of such a complex procedure would have been $625,000, far too great for the Lakshmi's family to afford. The hospital's foundation paid.
"We are very grateful to all the doctors for seeing our plight and deciding to help us," Tatma's father, Shambhu, told The Associated Press.