The Separation of Conjoined Twins

The twins going by the names Goodness and Mercy Martins underwent the operation at a NAtional hospital in Abuja, Nigeria. The separation of conjoined twins took place in Abuja on November 14. It was a big success since the two sisters were joined on their chest, liver and abdomen. What amazed most was that the whole process of the surgery was free including the 16-month stay of the baby twins. Upon noting that the parents of the twins were poor and could not afford the expensive exercise, the hospital management decided to do it free of charge. Chief Medical Director Jaf Momoh confirmed. As a result, the two sisters could breath a beam of hope.

Why was the operation free of charge?

“My attention was drawn to their inability to pay for such expensive medical procedure. So we accessed their status and classified them as indigent. We funded their care and major surgeries that separated them. We ensured that the lack of funds did not stop the beautiful twins from enjoying their lives independently.”

The one-year-old babies were born through caesarean-section at the Federal Medical Centre(FMC) in Keffi, Nassarawa state. Their parents are Mariah and Michael Martins. The two were joined at the chest, abdomen and the liver. Therefore, they could not lead an independent life. However, the FMC Keffi referred them to the National Hospital on realizing the weight of the surgery. Eventually, on August 14, the whole journey started. This is what transpired according to Emmanuel Ameh, the head of the surgical team.

The Procedure of the surgery

“The first challenge we faced when we received the babies was that their intestines were popping out from their conjoined lower abdomen.”

‘The next step was to find out several other organs the twins share in common and the ones that need to be separated,” said Mr Ameh a professional pediatrician. “They had two independent hearts inside one heart covering, preliminary investigations found out. While the twins have one conjoined liver serving the both, they have unglued intestines.”

An article on Mayo clinic found out that conjoined twins are a result of partial separation of the embryo to form two babies. So this embryo forms two fetuses who are however joined physically mostly at the pelvis. Clearly, most of these conjoined twins never make it. As a matter of fact, some are born while dead and others die shortly after birth. Today, the survival rate of conjoined twins has increased due to advances in technology and surgery.

Prior to the actual separation, the twins were subjected to nutrition for months. This was to ensure they are in the best condition when the surgery would happen. The operation took place for 12 hours with 78 different medical experts helping. “We divided ourselves into teams ‘Goodness’ and ‘Mercy’. We had open-ended support from the management of the hospital and he parents too trusted us.

The joy of the parents

Mr Martins and his wife Mariah termed the surgery as a ‘Miracle’. He was thankful to the National Hospital in Abuja for the successful surgery. The unemployed mother will automatically be secured with a job. This was according to the Minister of Women affairs, Mrs Tallen. The whole surgery team did a commendable job of separating the twins. Performance of such an operation locally boosts the confidence of the health sector in Nigeria.


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