A baby with two heads has been born to a woman in India who had no idea she was carrying conjoined twins because she couldn't afford an ultrasound - and doctors fear they cannot save the child's life.
The baby girl, who has two heads, two necks and two spines but only one body, was born weighing seven pounds, seven ounces, at the Cygnus JK Hindu Hospital in the northern region of Rajasthan.
Her condition is known as dicephalic parapagus - when conjoined twins share a single body - and the immense strain this places on the vital organs, combined with the difficulty of a successful operation means that doctors do not expect the child to survive.
Urmila Sharma, 28, who already has one child, went through her pregnancy unaware of any complications. It was only two weeks before her due date that medical staff became aware that something was gravely wrong.A scan revealed that Sharma's baby was, in fact, a set of conjoined twins, but 'it was too late to do anything' according to a doctor at the facility. The baby was born by Caesarean section.
Although chances of survival are slim, doctors at the hospital have vowed to do all they can to keep the baby girl alive. "The parents are very distressed and we are helping the family the best we can," Dr Malik told the Daily Mail.
"We will do our best to save her and we hope to operate once her condition is more stable." A separation will not be possible as the twins share the same body. The newborn, who has not yet been named, remains in intensive care while doctors consider the options.
The case bears a striking similarity to that of two boys born in the country last year with the same condition. Doctors were initially hopeful that they could be saved, but they died six days after birth.