A team of doctors in Nigeria have successfully separated a set of conjoined twins.
Lead surgeon Emmanuel Ameh told the BBC the operation to separate Goodness and Mercy Martins at the chest and abdomen took place in November and the two sisters were now well enough to go home.
He said the operation, which cost about $55,000, was complicated. But the medics at National Hospital Abuja did not charge for their work because the twins’ parents – Michael Edeh and Maria Onya Martins – could not afford the medical bills. They rely on Mr Martins’ salary as a painter to get by.
Speaking at the formal presentation of the separated twins on Tuesday, January 7 in Abuja, ahead of their discharge from National Hospital on Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, attributed the successful outcome of the surgery to the teamwork and administrative support the experts at the hospital received.
He said: “These beautiful girls of Benue State origin and their proud parents, are beneficiaries of a healthcare system, when it functions as it supposed to.
“The case management team has demonstrated that our health system, even with modest resources, can rise up to the highest challenges and offer quality care, to find its position among renowned international hospitals.”
The girls were brought to the National Hospital in Abuja a day after their birth. Since then, they have undergone four operations by a team of experts including paediatricians, neurologists, anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons, radiologists and others who spent 16 months treating them until they were well enough for the surgery to separate them.
Consultant pediatric surgeon, Professor Emmanuel Ameh, who led the team of experts, explained that the case Goodness and Mercy Martins was unusual because they were joined at two of the most delicate organs of the body.
He presented a short animation video which explained the steps taken to separate the sisters.
“This is an extremely rare condition. The biggest challenge we faced had to do with their separation at the chest region. This is really the first time that twins joined in the chest and the abdomen are separated throughout the entire country. All the other separated twins are joined only in one organ,” Ameh said.