Doctors in medical breakthrough . . . separate parasitic conjoined twin from boy (2)

Trust Freddy–Herald Correspondent 

A TEAM of paediatric surgeons, nurses and junior doctors at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare successfully separated an asymmetrical conjoined twin from a two-year-old boy in a delicate four-hour procedure on Tuesday.

After struggling to find help at other hospitals, the two-year-old boy’s family from Beitbridge finally found the treatment he needed, freeing him from the “parasitic” twin.

A parasitic twin is a type of conjoined twin where one foetus stops developing, but remains attached to its twin. The other twin continues to develop, but is usually born with the limbs, organs or other tissue structures from its parasitic twin still attached.

In this case, the partially developed conjoined twin had a head, bones, stomach, pancreas and loops of bowel to the rectum and was fused to the boy’s liver but with separate gallbladders.

This development comes as the team is preparing for a second set of fully developed conjoined twins who are scheduled for surgery in the coming weeks. 

The operation, which is expected to take approximately 36 hours, will involve a team of over 100 medical professionals, and is considered to be a complex and challenging procedure.

“The operation took about  four hours and our young patient is recovering well,” team leader Dr Kudzayi Munanzvi said.

“The parasitic twin had what looked like a head, some bone, a stomach, pancreas loops of bowel to rectum. It also had a liver which was fused into the young boy’s liver but with separate gallbladders.”

“The boy and his family are originally from Beitbridge and had been seeking help at local hospitals, but were ultimately referred to Bulawayo Central Hospital, where they also did not receive the necessary treatment. 

“I think someone suggested that they come to Harare, where they were able to receive the care they needed,” she said.

Other members of Dr Munanzvi’s medical team were Dr Precious Mutambanengwe, with Dr Brighton Muchini serving as an anaesthetist, Sister Memory Zvikaramba and Sister Shangwa as nurses.

The junior doctors included Dr Munyaradzi Nhare and Dr Chigova. 

The team collaborated to ensure the safety and success of the surgery.

Dr Munanzvi said it took them close to a month to do thorough investigation of what needed to be done.

“From the stomach, the pancreas, the small intestine, the large intestine, we noticed that the liver from the boy and the parasitic twin were also joined and the parasitic twin also had its own set of lungs but there was no heart.

“We managed to separate all the things that belonged to the parasitic twin and we left what belonged to the young boy in his own abdomen.”

She also revealed that the boy was now recuperating adding that his mother was very excited since there was a lot of stigma around the twins. 

“The boy is recovering well. He is actually in the ward and he is not in the Intensive Care Unit. He is feeding and the mom is very happy. 

“The mom was so happy because she was having a lot of challenges with the boy at home. There was a little stigma from the surrounding community.

 “Right now he’s eating and he is talking and playing. He is quite a happy young young boy.”

The mother could not comment on the development.

This operation reflects the advancement in medical science and the unwavering determination of healthcare professionals in Zimbabwe to change lives for the better.

“Separation of conjoined twins is always a formidable undertaking but the specialists that are available in the country have the necessary skill set and expertise to ensure a successful outcome.

“ The first set of conjoined twins that we separated is already in Grade Three,” Dr Munanzvi said.

In 2021, Zimbabwean paediatric surgeons successfully separated conjoined twin three-month old girls, in a complex 18-hour operation at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.

Anotidaishe and Atipaishe were joined at the abdominal-pelvic region, sharing a liver and some parts of their intestines, making the operation complex.

On July 29, 2014, a team of about 50 local health workers left an indelible mark in the history of the country’s medical sector following the successful separation of two conjoined twins from Murehwa District in Mashonaland East province.

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