, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 — Doctors at the Kenyatta Hospital on Wednesday morning successfully separated conjoined twins in the first ever surgery of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
A team of 50 medical specialists separated the twin girls, Favour and Blessing, whose lower backs were fused, in an operation that took 23 hours and concluded at 5am on Wednesday morning after a two year hospital stay.
The twins are currently admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital but KNH Acting Chief Executive Officer Thomas Mutie told reporters that they are expected to make a full recovery.
“It is the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa, outside South Africa where this kind of operation has been done successfully. So this fete is a statement to the world ‘in KNH and in Kenya, we can do what other people can do.’”
The girls have been admitted to the hospital for the last two years since their birth in late 2014.
The doctors however opted to given the children time to grow before putting them under the knife to allow them time for preparation and to allow the girls to grow in strength as explained by doctor Mutie.
“These particular ones were joined in the sacro area, in the bottom area, and they had to be given food to grow, to have enough muscles for that separation to occur. So this day marks the culmination of those two years of preparation and I’m humbled by the importance and enormity of this event.”
Here is the report Capital News reporter Olive Burrows filed when she first met the twins soon after their birth when the specialists at KNH began the journey that culminated in their seperation on Wednesday morning:
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 5, 2014 – Favour and Blessing lie side by side. Blessing sleeps peacefully but Favour sucks her thumb and when she’s tired of doing that, lets out a cry. All the while, Blessing doesn’t stir.
They are without a doubt beautiful three-month old girls. Twins.
And unless you unwrap the sheet they’re bundled up in, there’s no way of knowing that Favour and Blessing aren’t lying side by side by choice. Their lower backs are fused together. They are conjoined twins.
Each is fully formed except for the fact that their lower spines and rump are fused together and they share an excretory opening.
Theirs is a rarity with only one in every 200,000 births resulting in conjoined twins and even fewer being successfully separated.
The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), in which they now lie, has handled only five other similar cases in its history.
But the plan, the KNH Head of Paediatric surgery Joel Lessan says, “is to keep them beautiful to the end.” The end being separation.
And Lessan is optimistic they could survive it: “They have a 50/50 percent chance of survival.”
But first the doctors want to wait for them to, “flesh out,” Lessan says.
I say doctors because according to Lessan, it will take a team of them to successfully separate Favour and Blessing.