A team of Nigerian medical experts spent 13 hours performing complex surgery on a pair of conjoined twins to they live their independent lives in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Named Goodness and Mercy Martins, the kids came as a surprise when they were born on 13th of August 2018 at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa state, through a caesarean session, as their unemployed mother had not known she was expecting twins, let alone a pair conjoined at the chest and abdomen.
The conjoined sisters required about N20m for complex surgeries that would see them separated. Their hearts and the liver were fused together from the womb.
Fortunately, the management of the National Hospital Abuja decided to fund their care and the entire processes which led to the major surgical procedure for their separation as its corporate social responsibility.
At the formal presentation of the separated twins on Tuesday in Abuja, ahead of their discharge from National Hospital on Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the successful outcome of the surgery was down to teamwork and administrative support the experts at the hospital received.
“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.”
Since their arrival in Abuja a day after their birth, the twins have undergone four operations. A team of experts which include paediatricians, neurologists, anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons, radiologists and others spent 16 months treating them.
The girls are said to be doing well, the surgeries were not plain sailing.
Leader of the team who is a consultant pediatric surgeon, Professor Emmanuel Ameh, explained that the case of the conjoined twins was unusual because they were joined at two of the most delicate organs of the body.
He later presented a short animation video explaining the steps taken to separate the sisters while each footage summarised the efforts by the medical team.
“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.
Also speaking, Dr Jaf Momoh, National Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, noted that the separation of conjoined twins was a complicated procedure that required a multidisciplinary team approach with several meetings and rehearsals of all aspects of the operative procedure to become a success.
The father of the girls, Michael Edeh Martins, who a painter from Oturkpo, expressed his delight over the successful surgery.
“I am so happy to see Goodness wrapped separately. I initially couldn’t believe it. My gratitude goes to God and the medical team. May this success continue.”