For 12 years Veena and Vani have been inseparable, literally. Limbs fused since birth, life has been far from normal for the conjoined twins. There seems to be hope of a happy separation finally. In the news and at the centre of public sympathy in Andhra Pradesh ever since their poor parents started seeking medical remedy, help finally comes from a group of doctors from UK. The process involves a complex surgery and the doctors have assured them that there is a 75 percent chance of both the children leading normal lives.
David Dunaway, head of Craniofacial Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK, and Noor Ul Owase Jeelani, the paediatric neurosurgeon at the same hospital, were in Hyderabad a couple of months ago, had reviewed the condition of the twins and discussed with their parents the complexities of a series of possible surgeries.
The confidence of the UK doctors stems from the fact that they had successfully separated two such pairs in the past. Now, in this case, they are weighing a series of straightforward surgeries that could be simpler than a long single one, which could cause brain inflammation and heavy bleeding.
What makes the case so tough and complicated? The dural sinus that pumps blood from heart to brain is only one for both, but the brains are two. While the artery can be restructured for only one of them, the other needs a completely fresh support system to come up.
The cost involved is humungous too, with the ballpark figure somewhere between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore. But the reassuring part is the Telangana government has, in principle, agreed to foot the bill.
The case goes back to October 17, 2003, when the newly-born babies of Murali and Nagalakshmi of Suryapet in Nalgonda district in Telangana, were admitted to the government General Hospital in Guntur soon after a caesarian operation. It was Dr Y Nayudamma, a paediatric surgeon with four successful operations involving conjoined twins to his credit, who studied the case and started treating them. The first round of surgery was performed in December 2004.
But much to their misfortune, Dr Nayudamma retired from service in 2006 and ever since, the case has remained a big puzzle for doctors. According to the latest report the doctors sent to Niloufer Hospital and also Telangana Government a couple of days ago, they stated that the twins would have to stay in London for 10 months for pre and post-operative medical supervision.
Now, the ball is in the state government’s court, which needs to officially give its clearance and provide the pledged financial support to the parents. Till then, they are only keeping their fingers crossed.
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