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Conjoined twins successfully separated at Kenyatta hospital

Wednesday November 2 2016

Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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After 23 hours of surgery, twin girls, born joined at the lower back two years ago, began a new life apart on Wednesday.

In an intricate round-the-clock operation, doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) successfully separated the conjoined twins.

The team of 60 specialists, among them neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons, was led by the hospital’s chief paediatric surgeon, Dr Fred Kabuni, and the University of Nairobi’s head of neurosurgery, Prof Nimrod Mwang’ombe.

“This surgery needed a multidisciplinary team and it is a statement that KNH has the skills for such serious undertakings. It is also a sign that we are catching up with the rest of the world,” said KNH’s acting chief executive, Dr Thomas Mutie.

The operation, seen as a major breakthrough in Africa, started on Tuesday morning and ended at 5am on Wednesday.

Dr Kabuni said the separation — from the operation to taking the children to the intensive care unit lasted 23 hours.

However, the medics are yet to rebuild the anal canals of the twins as they need to heal first.

“Right now they have massive wounds that need to heal. We also need to have their muscles grow further to enable us create an anal canal for each one of them,” said Prof Mwang’ombe.

The twins, Blessing and Favour, have been admitted in KNH’s specialised paediatric ward for over two years, with doctors waiting for their key organs to develop and for the girls to gain appropriate muscles to withstand the surgery.

They were born in 2014 with each being fully formed save for their lower spines and rump, which were fused together, making them share an excretory opening.

The hospital said it would foot the bill that is estimated to be Sh106 million.

“The successful surgery is a testimony that the country is endowed with medical specialists who can handle complicated human health challenges,” added Dr Mutie.

Once the children’s wounds heal, the doctors will start reconstructive surgery, which is estimated to be performed in a year.