Doctors at AIIMS have managed to separate conjoined twins at head since birth, Baliya and Jaga in a landmark surgery. A team of 20 surgeons and 10 anaesthetists have started the process to separate the twins at 6am. Both Jaga and Baliya were wheeled into the operation theatre and anaesthetised when they underwent the first phase of the separation surgery on August 28. At around 9:30 am, neurosurgeons started to separate their brains along with the blood vessels. Finally the two were separated at around 8:45 pm and took another four to five hours for covering their brain.
According to Dr. Randeep Guleria, “Both are critical but stable and thee twins aged two years and five months were shifted to the ICU after few hours of surgery. The next few days are crucial for their survival.”
Doctors said that one of the babies was shifted to the ICU at around 11:45 pm while the other baby was shifted at around 2:30 am. The twins joined at the head are rare and occurring once in 25 million live births, which is even rarer for them to share the vein carrying blood back from the brain to the heart. There have been very few successful surgeries worldwide to separate the twins.
Dr. A K Mahapatra, Chief of AIIMS Neurosciences Centre, said, “Our team has achieved a milestone. However, there are many roadblocks ahead in the path of their complete recovery. We have to keep our fingers crossed.” According to the doctors, when the twins were referred to AIIMS for separation, Jaga was healthier and they believed that the chances of his survival were better as compared to Baliya. However he developed heart complication during the treatment and Baliya too has kidney malfunction. Dr. Manish Singhal, professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery said, “It is difficult to predict the survival chances. As doctors we have done our best and will continue to do so.”
Though the surgery to separate the conjoined twins took nearly 20 hours, as per doctors they have spent several weeks planning for the same. Another doctor said, “We practiced the surgery 3D print model several times before the actual surgery. It helped us understand the vessel anatomy and how to cut the brain precisely.” He also added that there were several nervous moments in the run up to the surgery.
Dr. Shefali Gulati, a child neurologist at AIIMS said, “One of the kids had multiple episodes of seizures, but when we gave medication to control it, it didn’t help initially because the venous channel in the brain was shared. We had to double the dosage.” Doctors said that the twins played happily before the surgery and pulled each other’s hair even. Basically their innocence worked to our advantage for had it been an adult convincing them for multiple surgeries taking as long as 20 hours would have been difficult and they would be psychologically impacted too. But even for Baliya and Jaga, the fight for life is far from over.
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