Nigerian doctors separate conjoined twins (photos)

A team of Nigerian doctors have successfully separated a set of conjoined twins.

According to reports, it took the doctors  13 hours to perform the complex surgery to separate Mercy and Goodness Martins at the National Hospital in the Federal Capital territory in Abuja. The surgery involved seventy-eight doctors working in 2 groups.

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Mercy and Goodness Martins were born on August 13, 2018 at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi in Nasarawa state, through a caesarean session. Their mother who is said to be unemployed had no idea she was expecting twins and she was even more shocked when they came out joined at the chest and abdomen.

Emmanuel Ameh who was the lead surgeon, told BBC that the operation to separate Mercy and Goodness Martins at the chest and abdomen took place in November 2019 and the two sisters are now well enough to go home.

He revealed that the operation, which cost about $55,000(N20m) was very complicated. Ameh stated that the medics at National Hospital Abuja did not charge for their work because the twins’ parents – Michael Edeh and Maria Onya Martins – where unable to afford the medical bills. They rely on Mr Martins’ salary as a painter to get by.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who spoke at the formal presentation of the separated twins on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 in Abuja, ahead of their discharge from National Hospital on Wednesday, January 8, 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.”

It was gathered that the twin girls were brought to the National Hospital in Abuja a day after their birth and since then, they have reportedly undergone 4 operations by a team of experts including neurologists, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, radiologists, plastic surgeons and others who spent sixteen months treating them until they were fully ready enough for the surgery to separate them.

Professor Emmanuel Ameh, the consultant pediatric surgeon who led the team of experts, noted that Goodness and Mercy’s case was very unusual because they were joined at two of the most delicate organs of the body.

He went ahead to share 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.

It was learnt that the National Hospital Abuja has successfully separated about 11 conjoined twins over the last twenty years, but in those cases all the twins had been joined at the abdomen.

Jaff Momoh, the hospital’s medical director, revealed that the case stood out as it was the very first time an operation had involved the lower chest wall, diaphragm and the liver.

The father of the twins, Mr Martins, who is a painter from Oturkpo, said he was so happy to see his daughters alive and well. He added that his family was looking forward to returning home.

He said: “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.”

His wife stated that words were not enough to thank the team of doctors and the unimaginable and priceless kindness of the hospital staff.

The minister of health recently visited the hospital to praise the works of the medics and to meet with the family. The women’s affairs minister has also promised to give Mrs Martin a job to help the family.

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