Nearly 1,090 days later, twins who were historically separated at Kenyatta National Hospital in November were discharged from the medical facility on Thursday.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Blessing Kathure and Favour Karimi on Thursday spent their first night in Meru since they were admitted to the KNH Specialised Surgical Paediatric Ward on September 5, 2014, as one-day-olds.
Their spines and lower back had fused such that, although each had her own gut, they shared the anus and genitals. At the time of their arrival at KNH, one of the girls had a fracture on her right lower limb that was suspected to have been sustained during delivery.
The twins were born through normal delivery at the Catholic Church-run St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital - Kiirua in Buuri, Meru.
Thursday was the second time they left the referral hospital. The only other time was on February 14 this year, for a Valentine’s Day treat at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.
The girls walked out of what they had called home for three years to a waiting ambulance that would ferry them and their mother Caroline Mukiri, 30, to Meru for the next phase of their lives.
The ambulance was packed to the brim with all their possessions – diapers, plastic seats, clothes and medicine – as they began their nearly five-hour journey at noon from the KNH Casualty Department.
Blessing and Favour underwent a delicate 23-hour operation on November 1, last year. The team involved in the operation comprised 58 health workers.
The girls have been under observation since then.
“I am very happy; I can’t explain my happiness,” Ms Mukiri told journalists and the KNH management shortly before their discharge. “I came here crying and now I leave with joy.
“May God give the doctors who attended to my children more knowledge to help more people.”
Ms Mukiri, who is jobless, is optimistic and hopeful that her future will be better.
Dr Joel Lessan, a consultant paediatric surgeon who was part of the team that separated Blessing and Favour, said the girls had made a remarkable recovery.
“We are now moving to the next stage with them,” said Dr Lessan. “We will monitor their weight, height, body tissue, spine, legs and internal organs to ensure everything is okay.
“We expect to review them in six weeks.”
What are awaited, he said, are a “few surgeries” by plastic surgeons to restore areas such as an anal canal for one of the twins, who has a partial one.
Oblivious of this, the identical twins seemed curious about all the attention they were getting.
It was evident that they were excited to be in identical red-flowered white dresses, matching red shoes and blue nail polish and their sparkly white eyes darted around the hospital in awe and inquisitiveness. They spoke in a string of questions, as is expected of children their age.
They are a copy of each other and the doctors could not tell them apart by merely looking at them. They had the same bright eyes, pointed noses and milk-white teeth and wore a beaded hairstyle.
The difference between the two is, however, discernible when they walk: Blessing walks with a slight limp and sucks the index and middle fingers of her right hand.
Ms Mukiri and her children had been at the national referral hospital for more than two years to allow the girls to gain strength and develop sufficient tissue and muscles for the complex surgery.
The hospital bill, amounting to over Sh5 million, was paid by KNH and the national health insurer, National Hospital Insurance Fund. KNH chief executive officer Lily Koros said the consequent bills will be covered by the NHIF.