78-Member Team of Nigerian Doctors Successfully Separate Conjoined Twin Girls In 13-Hour Surgery: ‘We’re Just Happy and Proud’

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A near 13-hour surgery to separate a pair of conjoined twins proved successful, thanks to the work of a 78-member team at Nigeria’s National Hospital.

Sisters Mercy and Goodness Ede were joined at the chest and abdomen before undergoing the complicated and oftentimes risky procedure at the hospital in the nation’s capital of Abuja six weeks ago, CNN reported. The bouncing babes are now recovering at home.

Mercy and Goodness Ede
Mercy and Goodness Ede suffered a birth defect that left part of their intestine outside their navel. (Photo: National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria)

“We are just happy and proud that the team that worked on this surgery were all Nigerians,” hospital spokeswoman Dr. Tayo Haastrup told the outlet. “It was done in Nigeria, and the parents did not have to go outside the country.”

Haastrup said news of the surgery is only being released now so that doctors could ensure there were no post-surgery complications.

The twins were born last August with a condition called omphalocele, a birth defect that left a portion of their intestine outside their navel. Complications following the twins’ birth and leading up to the separation forced doctors to delay the surgery until November.

“We needed to determine if they could live independently when they are separated,” said Emmanuel Ameh, the pediatric surgeon who led the team that successfully separated the sisters. “We found out [that] they were sharing a diaphragm and one liver was serving both of them, but all other organs were separate.”

Dr. Ameh told BBC’s Newsday that the girls have healed very well and are able to walk without support

“They are now able to stand on their own without support and we hope that they will start walking. And their wounds, which were very extensive on their tummy and chest, have healed very well.” Adding, “They are eating well and growing well and we think it’s safe for them to go home today.”

Mercy and Goodness are the first to be successfully separated at the government-run medical center, according to Haastrup. To their parents’ delight, the operation, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, was performed free of charge.

A 2017 paper in the Journal of Clinical Anatomy found that conjoined twins are extremely rare, with an incidence rate of one in 50,000 live births. The majority of conjoined twins also are female. 

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