Offbeat Video

By Sarah Francis


A baby girl born with four legs and two spines has successfully had her parasitic twin removed.

10 months old Dominique was brought to the US for treatment after being born with her twin’s waist, legs and feet, protruding from her back.

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The tot from Ivory Coast, West Africa, underwent complex separation surgery on March 8 and was discharged March 13.

Due to Dominique heart working for two bodies, Dominique would have a shortened lifespan and would suffer from balance issues and social isolation, without separation surgery.

Children’s Medical Mission West organized her care, where she was brought to paediatric neurosurgeon Dr. John Ruge at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Illinois, USA.

Dr. John Ruge said: “The fact that the twins were conjoined at the spine makes Dominique’s condition exceedingly unique and rare.

“It also made the separation surgery complex. But it was crucial to give this beautiful baby girl the chance to live a long and normal life.”

Five surgeons operated for six hours, as part of a bigger team of 50 medics that cared for the tot.

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Pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr Frank Vicari, added: “There were many risks involved with detaching the parasitic twin – the biggest of which included paralysis, spinal destabilization and closure of a large defect.

“There also was a chance of impacting shared functions, such as the urinary function.

“Before going into the operating suite, our interdisciplinary team identified where the dangers would be and how we would minimize them.

“That way we were prepared for anything that could occur. And I’m pleased to say the surgery was a success and Dominque has an excellent prognosis.”

The other three surgeons were Dr. Robert Givens Kellogg, paediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Jordan Steinberg, paediatric plastic/reconstructive surgeon and Dr. Eric Belin, paediatric and adult orthopaedic spine surgeon.

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Dominque is expected to stay with foster parents, Nancy and Tim Swabb in Chicago, who heard about her plight through Facebook, for two months before being reunited with her family.

Children’s Medical Mission West, an Ohio-based organization has helped 500 children from across the world receive medical treatment in the U.S since launching 16 years ago.