By Luminous Jannamike – Abuja
A pair of conjoined twins are finally living independent lives after a team of Nigerian medical experts spent 13 hours performing complex surgery to separate them in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Goodness and Mercy Martins came as a surprise when they were born on 13th of August 2018 at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa state, through a caesarean session, as their unemployed mother had not known she was expecting twins, let alone a pair conjoined at the chest and abdomen.
The conjoined sisters required about N20m for complex surgeries that would see them separated at the heart and the liver which were fused together from the womb.
Fortunately in their case, the management of the National Hospital Abuja decided to fund their care and the entire processes leading to the major surgical procedure for their separation as its corporate social responsibility.
Speaking at the formal presentation of the separated twins on Tuesday in Abuja, ahead of their discharge from National Hospital on Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, attributed the successful outcome of the surgery to the teamwork and administrative support the experts at the hospital received.
He said, “These beautiful girls of Benue State origin and their proud parents, are beneficiaries of a healthcare system, when it functions as it supposed to.
“The case management team has demonstrated that our health system, even with modest resources, can rise up to the highest challenges and offer quality care, to find its position among renowned international hospitals.”
Since arriving in Abuja a day after their birth, the twins have undergone four operations by a team of experts including paediatricians, neurologists, anesthesiologists, plastic surgeons, radiologists and others who spent 16 months treating them.
Though the girls are said to be doing well, the surgeries were not plain sailing.
Consultant pediatric surgeon, Professor Emmanuel Ameh, who led the team of experts, explained that the case of the conjoined twins were unusual because they were joined at two of the most delicate organs of the body.
He presented a short animation video which explained the steps taken to separate the sisters while each footage summarised the efforts by the medical team.
“This is an extremely rare condition. The biggest challenge we faced had to do with their separation at the chest region. This is really the first time that twins joined in the chest and the abdomen are separated throughout the entire country. All the other separated twins are joined only in one organ,” Ameh said.
Speaking also, Dr Jaf Momoh, National Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, said the separation of conjoined twins was a complicated procedure that required a multidisciplinary team approach with several meetings and rehearsals of all aspects of the operative procedure to become a success.
The father of the girls, Michael Edeh Martins, a painter from Oturkpo, expressed his delight saying “I am so happy to see Goodness wrapped separately. I initially couldn’t believe it. My gratitude goes to God and the medical team. May this success continue.”